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1/19/2018 - State of the Town; Two Years in Review

January 18, 2018

When looking back over the past two years it is clear that many great things have been accomplished. I believe the record and the progress made stands for itself.

My intent is to provide the Board of Selectmen and the public at large a clear vision of where we have been and where we are going. Good governance, transparency, efficiency, and fiscal responsibility were just four of my goals when taking office. I believe that they continue to be achieved through a lot of very hard work. The town is very fortunate to have a great many dedicated volunteers as well as town employees whose goal is to make Southbury the best it can be. All of our Boards, Commissions, and Committees work extremely hard and their commitment does not go unnoticed.

The following is a partial list of highlights and accomplishments achieved over the past two years.

Departments

  • Six Department Heads have been hired, Parks and Rec, Senior Services, Public Works, Tax Collector, Animal Control and Town Clerk. There is one vacancy at the moment, Fire Marshal, an interim Fire Marshal has been named.
  • Deconsolidation of the Senior Center/Social Services/Parks and Recreations after careful thought and input from all parties concerned. The rebuilding of those departments is ongoing.
  • Transportation at the Senior Center has been a major concern. After a lot of effort, a solution was found and has resulted in a more efficient system.
  • New software implementation at the Senior Center. This has resulted in lower costs, in a more user-friendly platform.
  • Hiring of two interns to complete projects that have been discussed for many years and never completed, the tax abatement study, and a policies and procedures manual.
  • Library staffing, which has been an ongoing problem appears to be resolved. This was accomplished by refining job descriptions, restructuring of personnel, and clarification of the organizational chart. This has resulted in what seems to be better morale among staff.
  • Resolving the ongoing issues with the Library basement.
  • Resolved the "recommissioning" of the boilers at the Library resulting in a much lower cost to the town.
  • Hiring of six new Police Officers under an independent system that streamlines and makes for a transparent hiring process. Policing designed for our community.
  • Replacement of security cameras at the Police Department.
  • Cleared up issues surrounding Resident Trooper overtime.
  • Reorganization of the Transfer Station for a better traffic flow for residents, along with increased recycling.
  • Completion of the redesign of the town website.

Legal Issues

  • Settled a long-standing lawsuit pertaining to tree cutting on town property.
  • Settled the Teamsters contract.
  • Negotiated and finalized an ongoing matter surrounding the sale of Heritage Village Water Co. to CT Water resulting in funds being set aside for the benefit of Heritage Water residential customers in need, money for the PRWC to study the water flow in relation to the aquifer, and a five year rate freeze. In addition, the agreement came with the condition that no water will be transferred out of our area of responsibility through the interconnect, however 500,000 gallons can be brought in. This agreement also intends to remove the Towantic Power plant as a "priority customer."
  • Implemented a Memorandum of Understanding between the Town and the Basketball Booster Club.
  • Straightened out issues with the banner program at Ewald Park, which had never been addressed before.
  • Defined Contribution Plan issues corrected. The original plan was unqualified and was never approved by the Board of Selectmen.
  • Secured an agreement with Region 15 and Middlebury with regard to medical pooling. Since its inception, an agreement was discussed but never completed.
  • Analyzed and concluded that the proposed solar farm at the landfill would not be a financially prudent move for the town.

Grants

  • Recovered $325,000 shortfall due to a math error in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
  • Applied for and received a grant for a bus for the Senior Center.
  • Completed the Pomperaug Riverbank Stabilization.
  • Issues surrounding a Historic Buildings Grant were resolved and the project completed.
  • ICE Grant-Purchase and sharing of a paver and roller.

Bids

  • Fire Department tanker repairs.
  • Spruce Brook Road Bridge was put out to bid after twenty plus years.
  • Personal Property Audits
  • Supplemental Snow Removal
  • Consulting Services for Reappraisal and Revaluation
  • Surplus Vehicles
  • Vending in Town Parks
  • Paramedic Intercept Services
  • Ballantine Park Pavilion Improvements
  • Hauling Services
  • Ballantine Pool-liner replacement
  • Construction equipment rental
  • Backhoe replacement
  • Janie Pierce pond - Request for Proposals
  • Microsurfacing
  • Tree Removal
  • On-call engineering

Roads and Bridges

  • Extended the Remaining Service Life of town roads by 43% by implementing lower cost methods of repair and maintenance.
  • Oak Tree Road Bridge closure and rebuilding completed under budget.
  • Pomperaug River Bridge repair completed under budget.
  • Established a reserve for the repair of bridges as well as a policy for bridge evaluation.
  • The Streetscape lighting is being evaluated and a reserve for repairs was established.
  • Spruce Brook Road Bridge work scheduled to begin March 1st. This is recognized as the oldest outstanding bridge project in the State of Connecticut.

This list is only a small portion of the work that has been completed over the past two years by the Office of First Selectman in conjunction with various departments.

Although Connecticut as a whole is in a less than stellar financial position, you can rest assured that the Town of Southbury is watching your tax dollars and evaluating every purchase for necessity.

We have presented the town budget in a clear, easy to read format, which is now available on the town website.

Over the past two years, I have met with countless citizens, civic groups, and Eagle Scout candidates, to name a few. Lengthy discussions with the owners of the Travel Center and Peter Pan Bus Company resulted in their willingness to resume service at that location. Extensive work was done on the potential acquisition of property for elderly housing at the Training School property. Although the funding for this project is on hold at the State, the town remains committed to our senior population and their needs.

Our goals for the future include participation in various studies, completion of outstanding bridgework, continuation of roadwork to improve remaining service life, evaluation of town departments for efficiencies, establishing a stronger partnership with the leadership of Heritage Village and further collaboration with Region 15.

While we have completed much, we know there is much more work to be done and I look forward to the challenge.

As always, my door is open and I appreciate hearing from you with suggestions and constructive criticism. I remain committed to the townspeople, employees, and the health and vibrancy of our great town.

Very Truly Yours,

Jeffrey A. Manville
First Selectman