Town Meeting approves requests totaling $1.5M

With 50 voters in attendance in the Town Hall council chambers tonight, the Town Meeting overwhelmingly approved three separate bonding requests which totaled more than $1.5 million.

The Town Meeting voted 45-5 to bond $406,000 for the purchase of two dump trucks for the Department of Public Works; 47-3 to bond $1,018,000 for costs associated with a road construction and reconstruction Phase 5 project; and 41-9 to bond $132,000 to purchase two vehicles for the Stevenson Volunteer Fire Department.

These three requests were among five altogether approved for the 2018 fiscal year capital budget, but First Selectman Ken Kellogg said the “high degree of uncertainty with the state budget” forced the Town Council to take no action at that time.

But in his presentation to Town Council last month, Kellogg told the council that, while some uncertainty with the state budget still exists, “there is sufficient reason to believe that pursuing certain capital projects approved during the fiscal year 2018 budget is prudent at this time.”

The town must pursue bond issues for the already authorized Stepney Elementary School roof project and fire apparatus purchases, said Kellogg, so adding these latest projects into the same bond issuance “will result in lower overall bond issuance costs while locking in favorable rates.”

The $132,000 request for the Stevenson Fire Department calls for the purchase of a utility truck and a chief’s vehicle. The original capital project approval called for $254,000 for the Stevenson Fire Department, but after talks with fire officials, Kellogg said the proposed equipment purchases could be deferred and re-evaluated for the 2019 fiscal year budget, cutting the request before the voters.

The $406,000 for the two dump trucks is part of the town’s rolling replacement plan of expensive vehicles, said Kellogg, adding that these new vehicles “improve safety, reliability and efficiency” since the vehicles being replaced have experienced breakdown issues in recent years.

Kellogg said the $1,018,000 for road construction and repairs is the town’s continued effort to improve the road pavement condition index and address the backlog of costly repairs and move toward routine maintenance.

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