FEBRUARY 16, 2021
Present: B. Scott Kuhnly, Glenn Ballard, Sally King, Mark Neumann, Edward Ohannessian, John D. Ward, Town Manager; and John Bell, Student Liaison
John Adams, 3 Westview Drive, addressed the board stating he was a member of the former Town-Owned Land Study Committee. In light of the recent discussions considering the sale of the development rights for 107 East Street, Adams wanted to remind people of some of the study findings. The survey done at that time generated 391 responses and no one was in favor of selling the property. The primary use should be agricultural and to remain in town hands. A total of 76 percent of the respondents were in favor of leasing the property for agricultural use and 50 percent were in favor of the property generating revenue. He believes selling the property development rights for a small amount of money would not be appropriate at this time.
Bill Glueck, 18 Barkhamsted Road, thanked the Department of Public Works for keeping the roads in good condition during the storm. He recently read the article in The Granby Drummer by Board of Finance Chairman Mike Guarco discussing the proposed 0 percent increase for the upcoming budget. He hopes the Board of Selectmen will support the Board of Finance and that budget details will be available to residents. He is also interested in any updates regarding Kearns School.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the board voted (5-0-0) to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of Feb. 1, with the correction: Item V.B. the motion was read by M. Neumann, seconded by E. Ohannessian, it went to discussion and was not voted upon. The motion at the end of discussion to table the agenda item remains as originally stated.
Unfinished or Tabled Business
Consideration of 2021 Bond Refunding Resolution
Ward reported the town’s financial advisor, Dixworks, LLC, a representative from underwriter Piper Sandler and Co., and Marie Phelan, bond counsel from Pullman and Comley have been invited to attend tonight’s meeting to answer questions. Dix introduced himself and noted he forwarded documents to the Selectmen earlier this afternoon to help them understand the proposed transaction. In these documents, the savings are spelled out for each year, with an average savings of $16,000 per year. He encouraged the savings be spread out. The actual cost would be $16,750 for the credit rating. The Trust is $10,500. Pricing advisor is $3,000. Dixworks is $27,840. Pullman and Comley is $50,000. That is typically paid at closing.
Ohannessian inquired if this should be brought before the Board of Finance. Ward replied they are not statutorily required to do so. Bond counsel replied that only the Board of Selectmen need to approve a refunding and a Town Meeting is not needed as they are just refinancing. There was a question in regard to paying down the debt instead of refinancing at this cost. It was noted that 2023 is the call date and debt cannot be paid down until then. Even at this cost, the estimated savings to the town would be $195,834.
On A Motion by King, seconded by Neumann, the Board of Selectmen voted to adopt the attached resolution for appropriation of five million six hundred thousand dollars ($5,600,000) to refund certain of the town’s outstanding bonds and authorizes the issuance of refunding bonds to finance such appropriation.
Ohannessian noted that although he realizes the town is saving money, he still believes this information should be shared with the Board of Finance. Ward noted he has spoken to the Board of Finance Chairman regarding this matter. Ballard questioned the dollar amount in the Resolution. Phelan responded that is the maximum amount and they will only issue what is needed.
The board voted (3-0-2) on the resolution. Ohannessian and Ballard abstained.
Kearns School Update
Mike Goman from Goman and York reported he has visited Kearns School a few times to inspect the property and has begun a marketing campaign by reaching out to direct contacts they know who may have an interest in the property. Goman provided background market information, stating retail and office development has slowed significantly as a result of COVID-19 but he is confident things will begin to turn around. If there isn’t any interest within 90 to 120 days, they will rethink their plan. If there is local interest, he may be contacted at gomanyork.com or 860-841-3271.
Consideration of Sale of Development Rights for 107 East Street
Abby Kenyon, director of community development, responded to questions that were asked at a previous meeting regarding the sale of development rights at 107 East Street.
It is possible to split off a piece of the land for future town use. However, a new purchase of development rights configuration and a new appraisal would be needed. In addition, the state would want to ensure that enough important soils remained within the reconfigured areas.
In regard to impervious surface area, the PDR offer restricts impervious areas to 5 percent and it is not negotiable. This is based on both Connecticut General Statute and Department of Agriculture Policy.
Ground-mount solar panels would be allowed provided the system is used for an agricultural operation/business and not commercial use. The ground-mount solar would count towards the 5 percent impervious coverage allowed.
The Department of Agricultural may consider modifying its offer if a new appraisal is submitted that shows a change in value.
Ward reviewed the budget operations for January 2021. Property revenue is at 95 percent and the state education total is at 43 percent. Intergovernmental revenue is at 43 percent, while filing fees for the Town Clerk are at 113 percent, with an excess of $26,238. Miscellaneous revenue is at 487 percent, which includes Grant ($5,000) and CFR Grant ($112,277.31) and internal budget transfers. Expenses remain in line with what was budgeted. At this time, there is nothing on the watch list.
Department Management Notes
The library is planning to re-open on a limited basis. Ward reported he has no re-opening plan for town offices at this time. He noted that COVID-19 information changes quickly and decisions depend on the requirements of the Department of Public Health.
John D. Ward, Town Manager