Happy New Year and I hope everybody was able to enjoy their holidays.
Our budget season is in full swing. I’ll be meeting with our Departments throughout the month of February and hope to have Selectmen approval by the end of the month before presenting to the Board of Finance. An initial estimate has the Town side budget at a 2-3% increase. As of now, there are no major drivers beyond general wage increases and inflation. I am looking at a nominal increase to programming for our Parks and Recreation, Youth Services, Senior Center, and Library Departments. If you’re interested in following along, look for meeting schedules on the Town website.
Here’s an update of Selectmen items that have been approved or being considered:
The Board of Selectmen recently approved my proposed TIF Matching Grant Program. The program takes money from the Tax Increment Finance District (TIF) and allows businesses within this district to apply for a matching grant of up to 80% on projects that will improve exterior façade or interior renovations. For more details, visit our Town website and encourage any business owners within the TIF district to apply.
The Town recently approved at Town Meeting a proposed Animal Control Ordinance that better clarifies actions, enforcement, and fees should animals be impounded at our contracted kennel provider.
A DPW Usage Policy along with a Landfill Policy has been recently adopted. Both can be found on the Town website. The DPW policy outlines how that department may or may not be used for outside organizations. The Landfill policy has updated charges and sticker implementation which will go into effect this Spring.
The Board of Selectman is currently considering a proposed Farm Building Exemption that would reduce or eliminate taxes on any barn used for agricultural purposes. More information can be found on the Town website.
Other policies the Board is currently considering are a Town Green Policy and Agenda and Minutes Policy. Both can be found under “Draft Documents” in the “Government” section.
A Blight Ordinance is also being considered and a public hearing can be expected in February before a potential Town Meeting to vote on it. The draft ordinance can also be found on the Town website when you click on the “Government” tab.
The Board of Selectmen has had an initial review of our Facilities Master Plan Study that has been recently completed. The study started in 2021. The plan is a comprehensive review of most of our buildings and potential needs they may have. The Selectmen have much to consider and one of the main considerations and recommendations by the Joint Facilities Committee was to consider a large building project at the Middle School. Nothing has been approved and there are a lot of factors to consider before proceeding with any decision, but the plan can be found on the Town website for review.
I continue to have coffee hours the first and third week of the month at Café Barista. I encourage and welcome any residents that would like to stop by from 8:30 a.m-9:30 p.m.. We had a successful launch in the month of January that included all of our First Responder Chiefs. Our State Representative, Tami Zawistowski, will be joining me for the first coffee hour in February. Updates of who will be joining me can be found online.
In November, the High School Suffield Sustainability Council, Sustainable Suffield task force, Youth Services, Spaulding Elementary faculty and staff, and USA Recycling rolled out a composting program at Spaulding. I’m happy to share how successful it has been with over 1,500 lbs of food waste that has been diverted from the trash in just two months. I’m looking forward to seeing these programs starting at McAlister and the Middle School. If you are interested in an at home composting bin, sign up on the Town website.
Enjoy what is hopefully one of the last months of winter and as always, my door is always open.