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Minutes of Board of Selectmen Special Meeting, 04/15/2020

AGENDA: Board of Selectmen Special Meeting

RECEIVED 04/20/2020 10:55am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Board of Selectmen Special Meeting
Tuesday, April 15, 2020
Via Zoom

Present: Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman; Peg O’Donnell, Selectwoman; Michael Thompson, Selectman.

Also present: 33 residents joined in the meeting including Board of Finance Chairwoman Dr. Kim Yonkers, Tax Collector Pat Moisio and Finance Director Steve Gniadek.

1. Call to order
First Selectwoman Pemberton called the meeting to order at 6:38 p.m.

Discussion and possible action:

2. Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders and local impacts including but not limited to: open meeting requirements, budget calendar, budget adoption, taxpayer relief programs, capital funding.

Governor Lamont’s Executive Orders were displayed and reviewed item by item. J. Pemberton noted that Executive Orders are changing daily and that she participates in bi-weekly meetings with Gov. Lamont and his staff and receives ongoing clarifying documents.

The current Orders move the Presidential primary to June 2, 2020 and a 30-day extension of municipal budget deadlines if due prior to May 15, 2020. The new Order authorizes a budget-making authority to adopt a budget for Jun 1, 2020-June 30, 2021. The Board of Finance can adopt a budget under the new Order. Concern is noted re: no referendum or ballot vote.

Mr. Thompson questioned if the relevant Governor’s Order addressed when the Board of Selectmen had to give the Board of Finance the authority to approve a budget and set a mill rate. Mrs. Pemberton stated that it did not but that the Order says that the Selectmen “shall” and there is no authority to hold a public meeting or vote currently. Mrs. O’Donnell reiterated that this is not the choice of the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Thompson suggested that the best option is to wait as long as possible before granting the Board of Finance the authority to pass a budget pending a possible amendment to the Order by the Governor that would allow a public vote.

3. Budget FY 20-21

Dr. Yonkers requested guidance from BOE as to when BOF could consider and vote on a budget. Julia Pemberton stated the due date is now June 3, 2020. Dr. Yonkers noted the potential consequences to putting off the vote as well as the timing coinciding with tax bills. J. Pemberton responded that the Tax Collector does not need much time to get the tax bills out and reiterated that the Board of Selectmen has to authorize the Board of Finance to vote on the budget.

Jamie Barickman suggested modeling the scenarios in terms of the present schedule and possible schedule noting that a Town meeting is less likely than a referendum. Mr. Barickman asked if the vote can be recalled if they vote now and the situation changes. Mr. Thompson and Mrs. O’Donnell concurred that it will not be possible to change a decision if made now. J. Pemberton stated that 40% of the budget is fixed.

Mrs. O’Donnell reiterated the need to wait and see if the situation changes or if there’s something in the town budget that needs to change. Mr. Thompson stated that with the current economic status, more information and taking time is beneficial.

Town Counsel will be asked to clarify who has primacy over the Region #9 budget that’s included in the BOE budget.

Tax relief options were reviewed. Tax Collector Pat Moisio reviewed the options and the Board agreed that a reduction in the interest rate to be in effect April 1-October 2 is a better choice re: equity and revenue.

Mr. Thompson moved and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to adopt the Low Interest Rate Program as identified in Gov. Lamont’s Executive Order #7S.

Mr. Barickman confirmed that the vote will be communicated on the Town website on 4/16/20. Dr. Yonkers will also make an announcement at the BOF meeting scheduled for 4/16/20. Mr. Thompson reiterated that the website can be accessed by the public and he encouraged residents to post questions or comments on the site. Dr. Yonkers stated that posted comments regarding the budget will be addressed at the BOF meeting.

4. LoCIP eligible projects for FY 20-21

First Selectwoman Pemberton reviewed the categories listed in the local capital improvement project guidelines. The list of projects that will be forwarded to BOF are the boardwalk at Lonetown Marsh, WPCC, Park & Recreation pavilion.

After discussion, it was determined that LoCIP funds can be used for the emergency communication system tower.

Mr. Thompson moved and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to recommend the use of LoCIP funds for the emergency communications system tower to the BOF.

5. Capital plan FY 20-21. No discussion.

6. Utilities task force: charge revised for solar energy working group. No discussion.

7. Public safety communications project update

S. Schnell, Communications Supervisor, Redding PD, provided project and cost specifics. Mr. Thompson thanked Mr. Schnell for his work on the project. Mr. Schnell reported that a formal document is in process.

Members of the town fire departments spoke to the need to get the project moving in light of public and volunteer safety.

J. Barickman stated that he would rather not use LoCIP funds for a project that has already been approved. Mr. Gniadek, Finance Director, noted that LoCIP funds are reimbursable funds and can be used to reimburse the fund balance for the radios. Mr. Thompson suggested extending the warranty on the new radios.

8. Fire and EMS abatement: revision to ordinance and procedure for enactment

Julia Pemberton reviewed the details of the revision to the ordinance and procedure for enactment. The current abatements, based on time with the respective department and dictated by State Statute, are $500, $750, and $1000. The new amounts will be increased to a maximum of $1500 for FY 2021 and up to $2000 for FY 2022.

The procedure is a special town meeting. Mr. Thompson suggested tabling discussion until the regular BOS meeting in May due to the inability to schedule a required town meeting at this time.

Mr. Thompson moved and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to table discussion until the Board of Selectmen regular meeting in May 2020.

9. Public comment

It was reported that the town of Vernon, CT has utilized a drive-thru Town Meeting.

J. Lang would like more detailed budget information. J. Pemberton referred him to the Board of Finance meeting scheduled for April 16, 2020.

10. Adjourn

Mr. Thompson moved and Mrs. O’Donnell seconded the motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m.

Submitted by: Kristi C. Reilly

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