Letter: First selectman talks issues

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To the editor,

After a reasonably mild early winter, Mother Nature has certainly struck back at us with a vengeance. Since the last week of January, we’ve had some level of snow event, from gale force winds blowing drifts across Rimmon Hill Road to near-blizzards and everything in between. I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as our Public Works Department has responded to every event, prioritizing main roads when necessary and addressing cleanup actions as quickly as possible once the events have subsided. If you see them out in their trucks, give them a wave as a way to acknowledge the effort they provide to the town on a daily basis.
Along those lines, this record-breaking cold has been playing havoc with many of our streets. Frost heaves in many places, such as the intersection of Cook Lane and Burton Road, are turning our drives into something like running an obstacle course in your car. Unfortunately, unlike filling potholes with temporary fixes of cold patch, there is little that the street department can do until the weather heats up, so I urge everyone to go a little slower and be a little more aware of the unexpected undulations out there. We will be addressing all of these trouble spots as soon as we possibly can.

You may notice a new and possibly familiar face around Town Hall, so let me officially welcome our new financial administrative assistant, Erin Schwarz, to our team. Erin is a long time resident in town, and has clerked for a number of our boards and commissions, so she brings a wealth of experience to the position. However, she has some big shoes to fill, as every welcome has a farewell associated with it. In this case, Erin is taking over for Denise Weik after several years of dedicated service to the town. Denise was instrumental in keeping the Finance Department functional during our search last year for a new finance manager. To call her a team player doesn’t go nearly far enough, and we wish her nothing but the best as she transitions to her new position in Woodbury.

On a small, positive note, I can finally announce officially that our electric vehicle charging station has been fully installed and powered up at its location in the commuter parking lot on North Main Street. It is available to anyone with an electric vehicle at no cost for the next three years, and we hope it will draw some new visitors to the town who might otherwise driven past us on Route 8. If you park in the lot, be sure to keep those two spots open for their intended use.
And in another bit of good news, I had the pleasure of accompanying our finance manager, Tom Broesler, up to the Department of Transportation in Newington recently to complete the process of outfitting our new senior bus. As you may recall, we were selected last year for a grant to replace our current bus, and our new vehicle should be arriving in time for the next Haunted Hayride in October.

Lastly, we have already begun the planning process for the upcoming 2015-16 municipal budget cycle. The Board of Selectmen is targeting our monthly meeting on March 9 to have a proposed budget to hand off to the Board of Finance for them to use as a starting point. Last year, that process resulted in the town accepting a budget increase of 0.1 percent, and while I cannot promise to duplicate that end result, I can assure you we will use the same level of scrutiny in developing a plan that addresses the needs of the town with the ability of our residents, both private and commercial, to do so in a fiscally responsible manner.
Stay warm, and let’s hope for an early spring.

Christopher Bielik

First Selectman

Beacon Falls