Town News You Might Not Know

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Too busy to look up what’s going on in town? Here’s a recap right at your fingertips. This article covers selected information from minutes from the Board of Education (BOE), Board of Selectmen (BOS), Board of Finance (BOF) and Planning and Zoning (P&Z). If you want more detail, it can be found using this link and go to Agendas, Minutes, & Recordings. Not interested in everything listed? Just pick the topic in which you are most interested. Let’s start with the BOE.

BOE 7/25/22

Adoption of the Teacher Evaluation (TEVAL) Flexibilities was requested. This was drafted and recommended by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and Suffield’s Professional Development Education Committee (PDEC). There will be more frequent informal teacher observations and performance ratings. The CSDE will also be recommending a new evaluation system.

There is a $50,0000 surplus, as some projects could not be completed due to supply chain issues. Additionally, the Open Choice account has $30,000 more than budgeted for the year.

Demographic studies underestimated the number of families enrolling. It was recommended that classrooms be kept small, at 16 students, with an additional kindergarten teacher approved.

The district currently supports 60 English Language Learners (ELL) covering 19 languages. Providing one academic support for three schools, grades 3-12, would be beneficial. The number of ELL students should be evaluated going forward to determine if a certified ELL instructor is needed.

An overview of total grants rolling over to the 2022-23 school year currently totals $2.6 million.

BOS 7/20/22

The Board of Selectmen officially increased the town’s current Building Permit Fees. The minimum fee has been increased from $30 to $60. In addition to that, the rate per $1,000 of construction costs has increased from $15 to $17. The projected revenue is $15,000 to $36,000 based on 1,200 applications.

A motion was made and passed to approve the $231,000 expense to purchase open space currently owned by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT).

The Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) is the broadest policy document the town has to guide decision-making on development and conservation issues for the next ten years and beyond. Section 8-23 of the CT General Statutes requires that each municipality adopt a POCD at least once every ten years. Suffield’s plan was adopted in 2010 and has been in the revision process since 2019. The draft POCD is on the town website for review with the plan being to hold a public meeting in September and to obtain approval by December.

Motions were made and passed for various appointments.

A new Suicide Prevention number (988) has been established as a quick connect to a trained mental health professional. It’s hoped that 988 will become a widely known, safer and more effective alternative to dialing 911. It should be noted that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 10-digit number 1-800-273-8255 will remain active, but calls will be routed to 988.

First Selectman Moll is waiting for an update on Tamer’s Witness Stone. A response is expected from Bill Sullivan of the Suffield Academy with final details on the programming.

Selectman Hill voiced his concern with the state’s roundabout recommendation for the intersection of Mountain Road and North/South Stone Streets. He feels that it will be detrimental to the farming community and the vehicles they use to transport their crops as it is a heavily traveled road for farmers. He suggested alternatives for this area. All selectmen agreed.

BOF June 13, 2022

Research is being done to determine if it’s possible to do a forward purchase of diesel fuel.

The Police payroll is under funded by over $269,000 because the contract settlement for four years with retroactive payments was greater than the accrued reserve. Additionally, overtime (OT) was three times more than budgeted. Chief Canon explained that the formula for the OT calculation has been in error for some time but the department had vacancies that offset those errors. Also, salary increases have kept OT at a higher rate as well. Now that they are fully staffed with officers and dispatch, they should see some reduction in OT. However, unforeseen events like storms, serious accidents or arrests that must go to court the next day can all require additional officers to be called in. Mr. Kost made a motion to transfer $269,245.88 from Contingency to cover the shortfall in the Police Department payroll. All were in favor.

Public works- road work projects had about $40-$45,000 unforeseen, unscheduled work.

The Library Director position wasn’t filled for some time, leaving $5,000 in the payroll account. Mr. Childs made a motion to allow up to $5K to be transferred from payroll to books. The motion passed.

There is $20,000 in favorability in the Selectman’s payroll budget from eliminating the Communications Manager.

Ms. Colston provided the Treasurer Update describing updates made to the prior treasurer’s worksheet to better align accounts and add consistency. She is looking into further consolidation and is verifying that treasurer’s Short-Term Investment Fund (STIF) accounts match between spreadsheets and financial reports.

Finance Director Eric Remington estimates ending the year with revenue of $400,000-$700,000 higher than budgeted. We received more in pilot and property taxes and the supplemental motor vehicle tax was significantly higher. We are waiting on the Pequot money which comes in on the last day of the fiscal year. Expenditures – There is a positive $20,000 in payroll from the Communications Manager position. Town Counsel is over budget and the largest item in public utilities is water for fire protection.

First Selectman Moll provided an update on resource changes. Kimberly Rogers from Bloomfield was hired as the Building Official to replace Ted Flanders who is retiring. Chris Matajek has been hired to replace Mark Cervione who is also retiring. Mr. Matejek’s position will combine the Highway Foreman and Facilities Manager positions. Shannon Jendrysik, the current Human Resources assistant will take on the Community Outreach role.

P&Z 7/18/22

Planning and Zoning received a request from Breezy Way Farm, LLC, for a six-lot Flexible Residential Development (FRD) subdivision and associated special permit. This would be located on the north side of Mountain Road adjacent to the West Suffield Cemetery and 1218 Mountain Road. Ms. Bromage moved to accept the application and set the public hearing, which passed.

Mr. Hawkins updated the Commission on the change to the State’s cannabis legislation, which no longer limits the number of retail and micro-cultivation establishments a town can have based upon population.

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