The Representative Town Meeting took its first budget-related vote Monday when the legislative body passed the bond resolution to finance $1,037,000 in non-recurring capital projects.
Of the six projects, two drew debate before the RTM passed the same resolution as the Board of Finance agreed on earlier this year.
Joseph Lipp, R-1, moved to eliminate the installation of a generator ($105,000) at Old Town Hall, citing the town can't afford the equipment at this time.
But First Selectman Michael Tetreau said the cost of the generator is a "very reasonable" one to pay to protect the assets in Old Town Hall, ranging from the vault of land records to the collection of taxes to the ability to register to vote come election season. That right was threatened for two consecutive years by the October winter storm of 2011 and Hurricane Sandy.
In the days following Sandy when Old Town Hall was without power, the town spent about $5,700 per day to pay non-essential employees to stay home, Ann Stamler said, reiterating calculations made at a previous Board of Finance meeting.
Town Clerk Betsy Browne pointed out that Old Town Hall is recognized as one of Connecticut's historic buildings. Should the structure lose power in winter and the pipes freeze and burst, repairs would have to be made following guidelines set for historic buildings and could prove costly.
"We as a town body need to believe the people who do this for a living," Jay Wolk, D-6 said. "Our head of the public works says this is what we need, Betsy Browne is saying how vital this building is."
The amendment to eliminate the generator for the bond resolution failed, and the body moved onto discussing the replacement of the Fairfield Woods Branch Library roof, a $200,000 request.
"We have a bigger problem here," Gaylord Meyer, R-1 said, after she moved to scratch this item from the resolution. "We need to do testing for mold. We need to find out if there's an environmental problem here."
According to Public Works Director Joe Michelangelo, library staff and patrons have not indicated a need at this point to conduct an air quality assessment on the building.
But as Tetreau pointed out, the roof is leaking and "should have been replaced seven or eight years ago."
"We can't patch it up anymore. We need to do something to extend the life and usability of the building or we're facing the loss of the building."
The amendment to strike the roof from the resolution was voted down. The RTM passed the full $1,037,000 resolution; members Lipp, Meyer, Kathryn Braun, R-8, Carol Pontrelli, R-9, and Mary McCullough, R-3.
The other requests for the coming fiscal year:
- Design of a new bridge over Mill River (Duck Farm Road): $300,000
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) improvements at the Reef Road Fire Station: $172,000
- HVAC upgrades at Police Headquarters: $160,000
- Bunker and tee box renovations at H. Smith Richardson Golf Course (part of a 10-year, $1 million upgrade project): $100,000.