By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
BEACON FALLS — A plan to borrow $6 million for capital improvements is back on track, but how it will end is uncertain.
Officials are looking to borrow $5 million to pay for road repairs and storm water drainage and sewer improvements, and another $1 million to make improvements at the wastewater treatment plant. The town’s proposed 2020-21 budget includes $94,500 for the first interest payment due on borrowing the money.
Typically, bonding resolutions would go to a public vote at a town meeting or referendum. The state waived in-person voting requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic and gave municipal officials broad authority on financial decisions.
Through an executive order, Gov. Ned Lamont granted municipal officials authority to issue bonds or notes instead of going to a town meeting. The order states, though, that if the appropriation is more than 1% of a town’s budget — which $6 million is in Beacon Falls — officials have to show there is a need to act immediately to avoid endangering public health and welfare, prevent significant financial loss, or it’s necessary for the protection of people and property.
First Selectman Gerard Smith said the town is seeking a legal opinion on how to proceed with a vote on the borrowing and whether the Board of Selectmen can approve it without a public vote.
The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance approved resolutions to borrow the funds in March before restrictions were put in place due to the pandemic. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the resolutions on Thursday.
The Water Pollution Control Authority still has to approve the resolutions. The authority is scheduled to hold a virtual hearing and meeting on the plan May 5 at 7:30 p.m. The public can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on how to listen to the meeting is available on the agenda online at www.beaconfalls-ct.org.
The authority’s approval is the last one needed from a board before the bonding plan goes to a final vote.