Beacon Falls voters OK money for roads, plant

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith speaks to voters during a town meeting Aug. 3 at Beacon Hose Co. No. 1. –ANDREAS YILMA

BEACON FALLS — The town’s plan to repair roads and make upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant will move ahead after voters approved borrowing up to $6 million for the work.

Voters OK’d two separate resolutions to borrow the funds — up to $5 million for road repairs and related storm water drainage and sewer improvements, and up to $1 million for the plant — by 49 to 2 votes at an Aug. 3 town meeting at Beacon Hose Co. No. 1.

“It’s been a long time coming for us to get to this point to actually put some money into our roads and infrastructure,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said.

Voters wore masks and practiced social distancing at the meeting, which was the first public meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March.

Officials have been working on how to move forward with a large-scale project to repair roads in town for over a year. The town hired StreetScan, Inc. of Burlington, Mass., last year to study the condition of roads in town to determine what work needs to be done to which roads.

A tentative list provided by officials has about two dozen roads slated for repairs over the next three to four years. The first roads on the list include, Columbine Lane, Hillside Drive, Randall Drive and Ladyslipper Drive.

Smith said work has already started on Hillside Drive. He said officials plan to finish work on Hillside Drive and Randall Drive this calendar year.

Smith said officials will know how much work road work will be done by mid-September.

“All the drainage that we can get done, we’re going to do,” Smith said.

The list of roads also includes Beacon Valley Road, Rimmon Hill Road and West Road.

The work at the wastewater treatment plant on Lopus Road includes electrical upgrades and a new emergency generator.

Smith said work on the wastewater treat plant is expected to begin next spring.

“The million dollars is going to be for some detailed electrical upgrades because the pumps draw significant power and the generator that we have over there is not adequate to run,” Smith said.

Officials anticipate the town will be able to borrow the money at a 1.75% interest rate. According to projections provided by officials, the bonding wouldn’t impact the tax rate until the 2023 fiscal year. The projections show the impact on the tax rate of the bonding alone would range from 0.02 mills to 0.62 mills, and be felt through the 2042 fiscal year.

The town’s tax rate is 39.50 mills. One mill equates to $490,397

Board of Finance Chairman Thomas Pratt said it’s a stable financial plan for the town to follow.

“Overall, the taxpayers should be happy,” he said. “Obviously some people want the roads paved tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen. This is a plan that the town has not seen in years.”

Smith added, “We’re on the road to recovery.”

Voters also approved three budget transfers: $30,000 from the undesignated fund balance to the non-recurring capital projects fund for coronavirus-related expenses; $58,339 from the undesignated fund balance to the non-recurring capital projects fund to pay an outstanding invoice from Supreme Industries for cleanup following the tornado in 2018; transfers totaling $36,000 to cover police overtime costs in the 2019-20 budget.