Selectmen’s $39.6M budget now before finance board
NEW CANAAN — Town officials had pushed for a budget increase of no more than 2 percent. The Board of Selectmen approved spending plan comes in below that mark, while still managing to set aside funds for building renovations.
With a 1.36 percent year-over-year increase, the selectmen’s proposed budget for town operating expenses totals $39,615,245. Adopted on Jan. 30, the spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018-19 is still being tweaked — now by the Board of Finance.
Noticeable items on the proposed capital request list for the town include $1 million to add an elevator and to cover bathroom renovations that would make Waveny House compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Recreation Director Stephen Benko said the renovations would help greatly, particularly an elevator, as the Recreation Department offices are on the second floor of Waveny House.
“To meet the state code, we have to have access to the second floor for people with disabilities,” Benko said. “We need to have ADA-compliant bathrooms, and that requires having doorways with certain widths. We have people come to register for programs, and if they have disabilities, it’s difficult for them to come up, so we come down and help, but an elevator would be helpful.”
Another item included $500,000 for renovations to the Police Department at 174 South Ave. — a building that hasn’t seen a meaningful renovation in 35 years.
“The proposed work is to develop plans to renovate the existing building to the current and future needs of the Police Department,” Director of Public Works Tiger Mann said. “The building has had limited repairs since the Police Department initially occupied it in the 1980s.”
According to Mann, heating, venting, air conditioning and plumbing systems would be reviewed for possible replacement with the requested funds.
These items come in the wake of the Building Evaluation and Use Committee report released in December. The committee hired Dude Solutions, an engineering firm, to gather data and information on the 56 town-owned buildings to see how they could be improved and put to better use.
Amy Carroll, a co-chair of the committee, said she believes these budget items are a good way of moving forward as a result of the research presented in the report.
“The Police Department is in need of renovation, and if we can design it in a way that accommodates the Board of Education on the top floor, this would be a real win for the town — bringing the Board of Education on campus and eliminating the need to lease space.” Carroll said. “Given the capital requirements demanded to maintain this iconic structure (Waveny House), I would hope the town will move forward in developing a plan to more fully utilize the facility.”
The selectmen’s capital budget requests come to a total of $10.2 million: $7.9 million for the town and $2.3 million for the Board of Education. The selectmen’s capital budget request funding is down 24.8 percent from the current fiscal year.
The Board of Finance is still reviewing the budgets of Town Hall departments, but is scheduled to hold a public hearing March 6 and a vote on the budget March 8.
The Town Council, however, has the ultimate vote on the budget and will hold a public hearing April 3, followed by a vote two days later.