Beacon Falls bond package heading to referendum

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BEACON FALLS — Voters will get their say on a nearly $6.3 million bond package on Tuesday.

For the past several months, town officials have been bouncing around the bond package trying to determine exactly what items to include on it.

“This issue’s been going back and forth for quite some time,” said First Selectman Susan Cable, during a March 7 town hall meeting on the bond package.

After months of discussions, the package was narrowed down to three items.

“These are the three areas we feel have to be addressed,” Cable said.

The largest item on the bond package is about $5.1 million for road and sanitary sewer main improvements. Included in this item is the purchase of “Benedetti recycled hot emulsified asphalt treatment equipment,” for the reclaiming of town roads.

Board of Finance member Louis Krepinevick, who researched purchasing the equipment, explained the equipment will allow the town to resurface roads at a much lower cost than hiring a private contractor. He said the machine will dig up to three inches of a road, add an additive to the ground up asphalt and then reapply it to the road, all in one step.

There will be some upfront costs related to the purchase. But, over a few years, Krepinevick said the equipment will pay for itself.

Beacon Falls would become the first town in the state to have such equipment. Officials said there is interest among other towns to potentially lease the equipment from Beacon Falls if it’s bought or buy it with the town.

This issue drew the most conversation from the nearly three dozen people who attended the meeting. The consensus among those in attendance was that purchasing the equipment was a wise financial decision.

The package also includes $125,000 for various fuel and heating oil storage facility improvements. Cable said the town has been cited by the state Department of Environmental Protection for underground fuel tanks at the firehouse. The $125,000 will be used in part to build above ground tanks.

Cable said the town received some grant funds to offset the cost slightly. She said the town is facing fines from the state if it doesn’t do something. But, she added, since its moving forward the state hasn’t come down on it yet.

The final item on the package is $1 million for mandated wastewater treatment plant improvements.

“This is really another mandate,” Cable said.

Cable emphasized that voting in favor of the bond package only gives the town authorization to spend the money but it doesn’t mean the town will. She said the town will continue to look for grants and other means to defray the costs.

“Authorizing us doesn’t mean we’re going to go out and buy things or we’re going to spend the money,” Cable said. “We only go out to borrow what we need to borrow on the project.”

Exactly how the bond package would impact taxes was unknown since the town is in the middle of the budget process. Officials were confident the package would have a minimal to no impact at all.

The referendum on the bond package will be held Tuesday, March 15 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Laurel Ledge Elementary School on Highland Avenue is the polling place.