Board of Selectmen Meeting Minutes from January 18, 2022
Present: Board of Selectmen Julia Pemberton, Michael Thompson, Peg O’Donnell.
Videographer: Bob Moran. Minute-taker: Alice Smith.
Presenters: WestCOG members: Betsy Paynter, Kristin Hadjstylianos, Kristin Floberg, Francis Pickering; Dry Hydrant presenters: Dave Hermenze, Steve Walsh, Ben Pardee.
Members of the public: Aimee Pardee, Toby Welles, Chris Parkin, Sarah O’Dell, Laura Gibbons, Ward Mazzucco, Stan Rhodes, Jeff Boxer, Mary Dale Lancaster, Carol Murray, Susan Clark, Claudio Rodrigo, Karen Gifford, Jenn Wyss, Dan Barrett, Laurie Heiss, Nancy Pelz-Paget.
Called to order at 7:31 pm.
Minutes approved for Joint Meeting of December 20, 2022. Thompson. O’Donnell. No discussion. Approved.
Presentations by WestCOG (Western Connecticut Council of Governments):
Presenter Francis Pickering, Executive Director of WestCOG since 2015, presented what the WestCOG is and does. WestCOG is one of 9 state councils of governments, under state law, which provides regional services to chief officials, of which Redding is one of 18 member municipalities in this group. The COG serves at the regional level to assist with planning, transportation, emergency preparedness and special projects. Meetings are monthly and open to the public.
Presenter Kristin Hadjstylianos, principal planner for Western CT Council of Governments (WestCOG): An MPO 101 (Metropolitan Planning Organization) gave a presentation with some history and basics regarding how the organization helps examine trends and existing condition of each town’s unique needs, through data collection and analysis, as to where investments can be made. The planning areas involve transportation, housing, open space, emergency management, economic development, hazard mitigation. The COG is the space where municipal leaders gather to investigate and assist each other finding financing, collaborate on projects, communicate and act as a sounding board for projects they are involved in and whatever is critical for the growth and well-being of their towns while keeping a check and balance on compliance, both short and long-term analysis and goals. K. Hadjstylianos shared detailed screens of her presentation of current and future plans and encouraged people to check out the website and sign up for the COG newsletter. There was a brief discussion amongst the BOS about the supervisory role or approval function by the COG. In conclusion, the COG’s role is advisory.
A public comment followed with a question from Susan Clark about whether or not the COG lobbies for more funding for towns at a state or federal level. K. Hadjstylianos noted that the COG does not lobby. F Pickering responded that the COG does push back on intrusion from state government by working with stakeholders at all levels, including legislators and Office of Policy Management, to educate them about what the region’s priorities are, best practices and data driven (evaluating census numbers, for example). Knowing data and numbers should help bring more dollars effectively from the Federal government to CT, specifically to the 9 COGs—and Redding—to apply for grants more aggressively in the future. F. Pickering described some taxing issues that disadvantage us at the moment or that we aren’t applying for enough grants or that programs criteria are crafted in such way as not to include us.
Presenter Betsy Paynter, project manager, ARPA (American Rescue Plan Technical Support): ARPA funds and Economic Development for WestCOG CEDS (Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy). Today a 45 page Treasury Dept. final rule document was distributed, in laymen terms, of where ARPA funds could be used. Some examples: social services, emergency services, fire, ambulance with some additional economic development investments. The funds need to be identified to spend by 2024 and used by 2026. J. Pemberton mentioned that an Economic Development Committee and ARPA Working Group will be meeting to review and discuss potential distribution of funds. B. Paynter offered to help.
Presenter Kristin Floberg, planner at WestCOG: Redding Affordable Housing Plan. The deadline for submission to the state is June 1, 2022 by State mandate. Aimee Pardee, Redding Zoning and Planning Officer was present. According to Kristin, the only requirement is that the municipality should specify how they intend to increase affordable housing developments in the municipality. Redding has chosen to join a regional plan. Described: affordable housing is defined as less than 30% of your household income. Redding needs to have 10% affordable housing (currently under.5%). This translates to 381 units. However, there are actually 761-3 households in Redding that would qualify for affordable housing right now. K. Floberg provided a rigorous presentation with a variety of data: age, sized houses, rent vs. own, jobs, single vs. multiple family; regional plans; municipal annex document; strategies toolbox—zoning and financial. The annex document will need help from town employees: POCD, community value statement, housing market trends, number of housing units over time, median housing prices evolution, population projection, housing needs assessment—who is spending more than 30%, household size based on tenure (single as renter vs. owner), strategies over 5 years.
M. Thompson asked who is responsible for putting this together? BOS? Zoning? Planning? K. Floberg reiterated she will be working with Planning and Zoning and then go to a public meeting as well as regional input, with 3 webinars plus a 35 day notice before you adopt it as a town in a public hearing. M. Thompson is concerned about getting the word out since we have lost our local newspaper. Looking for help and guidance from WestCOG. The COG has a plan in place for public participation: notice for comments in newspapers, website, social media, town’s social media, etc. As many venues possible.
Toby Welles chimed in to ask a question (former chair of Planning Commission and involved in past affordable housing). Chief issue: Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill could play a large role in affordable housing and will be central to effort. J. Pemberton agreed. T. Welles noted that most of Redding is water shed so Georgetown is a good place for this housing, since there are utilities and sewage there. M. Thompson asked another question, what are next steps after adoption? K. Floberg said as long as plan is made, you do not have to have solid action plans in place but intention.
Discussion & Possible Action: Dry Hydrants
Dave Hermenze, Ben Pardee and Steve Walsh represented fire house presentation. M. Thompson asked about the wells behind RES. Response: Dry hydrant is best way, not only way, because of the water volume is at 1 million gallons of water. Even if installed tank, capacity is just 20,000 gallons. Can’t get volume from any existing tanks behind school and can contaminate drinking supply. It’s hard to access during winter and costly to get hooked up. Dry hydrant cost was originally $30,000. Went to bid from 3 vendors. 2 did not bid—too hard to do. 3rd bid was by Nazzaro Inc. Excavating Contractors, who are experienced with dry hydrants, came up with a larger number. They suggested an additional de-watering process of for the cost of $108,000 (plus $30,000+). P. O’Donnell asked if the cost will go up even more? And what is the best time of year to do project? B. Pardee stated late summer and early fall, when water and animal activity is lowest.
The Economic Development Committee will be meeting to discuss use of ARPA money to perhaps include this project. There was also some discussion about how other communities are using ARPA and ESSER funds. Also discussed demographics data discussion that might be helpful for forward discussions on how to dispense ARPA money.
No action was taken.
Discussion and Possible Action: Redding Police Dept. Overtime Analysis for COVID-Related and FMLA absences.
Power Point presentation prepared by Chief Mark O’Donnell for the BOS to review. Injuries, COVID, training and maternity leave. Only 15 officers there now (out of 17) so all preferred staffing levels have to be filled with overtime. Someone has to cover a shift.
Motion: The BOS recommends that we approve the additional supplemental appropriation to the to the Board of Finance of $160,000 in order to cover the anticipated overtime costs for the remainder of the fiscal year for the Redding Police Department. Thompson. O’Donnell. Approved unanimously.
Discussion and Possible Action: Legal Fees: Meadow Ridge 2012 Tax Appeal
No action was taken.
Board of Assessment Appeals
1. Sharon Hoverman (D) TERM – 01/18/22-11/18/23, move from alternate to full member to replace Karen Gifford.
2. Elizabeth (Liz) Candler (D), TERM 01/18/22-11/21/23, new appointment as alternate, filling Sharon Hoverman’s vacancy.
3. Charles Bachmann (R), TERM 11/16/21-11/18/25, reappointment as alternate to new four year term.
Motion: to approve all appointments to the Board of Assessment Appeals. Thompson. O’Donnell. Unanimous.
Board of Ethics
1. Laurie Heiss (D), TERM 02/09/22-02/09/24 (full member, replacing Andrew Carman whose sixth year ends 02/09/22.
2. Aaron Bricker (D), TERM 02/09/22-02/09/24 (full member, replacing David Anderson whose sixth year ends 02/09/22.
3. Glenn Eric Witt (R), TERM 01/18/22-01/18/24, move up from alternate to full member, replacing Richard Emerson who resigned 08/28/21.
Motion: to approve all appointments to the Board of Ethics. O’Donnell. Thompson. Unanimous.
The department head budget meeting that is slated for Friday, January 21, 2022 beginning at 8:30 am in the Town Hall meeting room will be in person and have a remote option. It will be made available via Zoom but the public is welcome to come to Town Hall.
No new business.
No public comment.
Adjourn 9:38 pm.