Town manager feeling the pinch as budget presentation draws near

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by Shirley Murtha

Town Manager Bill Smith will present the budget at the BOS meeting on March 7. He reported that it is becoming more and more difficult as the years go by to meet the Board of Finance guideline and still meet the goals and objectives of the Board of Selectmen to maintain the staffing and services that town residents expect. The BOF wants the BOS budget to come in at a 2.5 percent increase, which would result in a two percent increase in the mill rate, but to meet that guideline there will have to be serious cuts in staff and services. A decrease in funding from the state coupled with mandates and increases in almost all operating costs make this near impossible.
Smith pointed out that the town has not re-instated some of the cuts in staff and services made several years ago, and he thinks the town is at the point where meeting the guideline cannot continue without drastically changing town operations.
Budget Workshop Schedule
BOS members will meet with town department heads before the workshops regarding concerns for the upcoming budget. First Selectman Kuhnly will meet with Public Works and Fire, Ed Ohannessian with Administration, Jim Lofink with Capital Budget and Debt Services, Sally King with Personal and Property Protection, and Mark Neumann with Library, Recreation and Social Services. These meetings will take place on March 7 and 10. They are open to the public and will start at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room.
Capital Lease Purchase Program
Simsbury Bank offered the lowest rate for the Capital Lease Purchase Program loan for 2015-2016. The loan will be $627,594 for five years and $179,000 for three years. The board approved the selection of the bank.
CERT Equipment
The board approved accepting a donation of $1,400 from Eversource via the Capitol Region Citizen Corps Foundation to cover the total cost of equipment and uniforms for the Granby Community Emergency Response Team.

In addition to our safety trainings with police & fire departments across the state, we also work with our local…

Posted by Eversource CT on Monday, February 22, 2016

Regional Performance Incentive Grant Project
The Capitol Region Council of Governments in conjunction with the Office of Policy and Management has asked all participating towns to support its requests for grants to fund various town projects. The boards of selectmen of the capitol region towns meet periodically to discuss projects that would benefit certain constituencies. The Granby BOS approved this request.
Town Attorney
The board approved the appointment of Richard Roberts of Halloran and Sage as town attorney.
Budget Operations
At the halfway point in the fiscal year, tax collection is at 65 percent, which is under the 67 percent of last year at this time. There was a reduction of $42,500 from the state in Education Cost Sharing. The town received its second ECS payment of $1.4 million.
Grand List
The Grand List for 2015 is complete and has been filed with the state. The total represents an increase of .58 percent, which is slightly higher than expected. At the current mill rate, the increase will generate about $197,000 in new revenue.
Department Report
Director of Library Services Kelly Marszycki gave the annual update on her department at the February 16 meeting. In the year that the library has been a member of the CONNECT Consortium, inter-library loans have doubled, from 3,500 to 7,200. Using the purchasing power of the consortium, GPL will be adding Ebook offerings through OverDrive and OneClick digital programs, instituting monthly Enewsletter alerts for new materials and expanding digital magazines through Zinio.
Facilities upgrades include reconfiguring the main room at Cossitt to facilitate its use as an event and program center. New period-appropriate furniture was installed. Construction on the reading terrace at the main library has begun and will be completed in the coming months.
Holly Johnson has assumed the new position of Public Program and Outreach Coordinator. She will explore methodologies for reaching out to the community and to find new programs aimed at attracting new patronage.
Final facts and figures for the 2014–2015 fiscal year: Granby libraries performed 268,030 transactions and registered 368 new patrons, bringing the total number of library cardholders to 8,172.
Lions Club Donation Proposal
Members of the Granby Lions Club presented a proposal to donate the purchase and installation of a gazebo for the town green, placed midway between the Civil War and Veterans monuments. The structure would be 14 feet in diameter with interior bench seating, and have two entrances, one with handicap access. The town manager will contact Jim Hall to see if the American Legion would have any objections. The Public Works Department will investigate the location of underground utilities. The board appreciates the offer and approved accepting the proposal if these conditions are met.
Gerald Ledger asked the board to consider three items: extending voting hours for the budget to the full day used when holding political elections. Contacting the state DOT to determine why one of the center traffic lights sometimes uses the green arrow for left turns onto Hartford Avenue and other times not. Asking DOT to consider the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians at the proposed rotary at Five Corners.
Resignations and Appointments
Kathryn Miller will replace Michael Ortengren who has resigned from the Commission on Aging. Barry Avery replaces Susan Dwyer who has resigned from Conservation Commission. Peter Jalbert replaces Anna Sugliuzzo who has resigned from Conservation Commission. Mark Higby will replace Stanley Hayes on the Agriculture Commission. Steve Muller has resigned from the Conservation Commission and no replacement has been named.  Shirley Ryan was appointed to the Commission on Aging.
The following have been re-appointed to their various commissions and boards: Peter Barwick, Commission on Aging; William Slevin, Conservation Commission; Martin Schwager and Henry Garrett, Development Commission; Wayne Cahoon, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses; Robert Donna, Library Board; Jennifer Bilodeau, Squire Bressor and Susan Lasotta-Turcotte, Park and Recreation Board; Mark Lockwood, Granby representative to the Greater Hartford Transit District.
Gatehouse Road
Convening with John Adams moderating at the February 1 BOS meeting, the board approved the acceptance of Gatehouse Road as an official town road.  This qualifies the road for plowing, school bus service, mail service, etc. Gerald Ledger raised the point that for this approval to pass, the town engineer must agree that everything meets specifications, but the engineer has said that the retention pond is not working properly. Town Manager Smith assured Ledger that the bond for the project is sufficient to pay for any corrections that need to be made.
Wayne Cahoon questioned the cost of maintaining town services for such a small number of houses. The board noted that the cul de sac is .15 mile long. The town has 180 lane-miles —90 miles of two-lane roads). The additional service to Gatehouse Road amounts to .2 percent of that required for the town and would not approach a recognizable increase in the mill rate. In addition, the acceptance of the road is a contractual agreement with the developer and the town takes a much greater risk by not accepting the road as an official town road.