Board of Finance Special Meeting
Monday, August 5, 2019
6:30 p.m., Redding Town Hall
Present: Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chairman; Ward Mazzucco; Susan Clark; Robert Dean; Edward Miller. Absent: Jamie Barickman.
Also present: First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton; Selectwoman Peg O’Donnell; Treasurer Wes Higgins; Town Clerk Michele Grande; members of the public; no videographers.
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
1. Public Comment.
No members of the public spoke.
2. Board of Selectmen Approved Road Plan
First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton provided history of the most recent road program. She indicated that some funds were left unspent from the approved four year road plan and were expended in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Unfortunately, not enough money is left from these funds to repave roads that currently have urgent need, such as Umpawaug and Marchant Roads. She also pointed out that our town, and a number of adjacent towns, may have purchased substandard paving material that has shortened the lifespan of roads that were repaved in the last 10 or so years. She and other towns are exploring this and having the material tested that may result on specifications when contracting future work.
Mr. Dean pointed out that the composition of asphalt has changed, apparently to reduce volatile organic compounds. He also recommended evaluating the specifications for the various asphalt compositions available on the market. He recommended against “chip-sealing,” which Ms. Pemberton said had been discontinued.
Ms. Pemberton provided a list of road projects that were completed and that are planned. She underscored that the work projected by her and the highway department may change depending upon the condition of the roads. The current plan includes $2,910,800 and the urgent need for Umpawaug and Marchant is slightly less than $800,000.
A discussion ensued on the sources of possible funding for the project. Ms. Pemberton raised the possibility of using the town’s unallocated fund balance and then replacing the funds after issuing bond anticipation notes or bonds or both.
Members of the Board of Finance favored funding all the roads identified by Ms. Pemberton that would ultimately need repaving, and not just the ones in the poorest condition. They felt that an explanation to the voters of the extent of roadwork needed, rather than piecemeal requests, provided greater transparency. It may be problematic to “borrow” funds from the fun balance as part of a larger plan if the voters do not support the plan.
Ms. Clark asked whether the priority for road work was based on the requests of the most vocal residents, but Ms. Pemberton gave assurances that she receives only a few road complaints every year. She said that roads deteriorate at varying rates, so she and Jeff Hanson, High Department Head, make a new assessment and set new priorities every year.
3. Funding Options.
The Board of Finance then discussed sources of funding. Ms. Grande raised the possibility of a vote now on the roads in greatest disrepair and a vote on a larger package with the budget vote next May. The Board of Finance favors putting votes on capital items into the budget referenda in May, as a general proposition, but felt this package could not be delayed.
On the motion of Mr. Mazzucco and the second of Mr. Dean, the Board voted unanimously to recommend the expenditure of not more than $2,950,000 to fund the road plan presented by the Board of Selectmen to be funded by the unassigned fund balance and/or bond anticipation notes, pending long-term financing, to be considered at a special town meeting and referendum.
4. Public Comment
Chris Racette noted that the road work appears necessary but he felt that this capital request should have been part of the May 2019 referendum. Chair Yonkers agreed that, generally, the Board of Finance prefers to bring all funding requests to the voters at once but was not in a position to do so, given the exigent need for road work.
Chair Yonkers adjourned the Special Meeting at 7:10 p.m.
Ward J. Mazzucco, Acting Secretary