BY ANDREAS YILMA
NAUGATUCK — There is new leadership at the Finance Board before the upcoming budget season begins.
At its special meeting on Nov. 17, the Finance Board appointed Deputy Fire Chief — and current Finance Board member — Ken Hanks as the new chairman. The board also appointed current Finance Board member James Higgins as the new vice chairman.
Hanks said he was surprised when he was appointed to lead the board.
“I was excited about it,” Hanks said. “I look forward to it.”
Previous Finance Board Chairman Dan Sheridan stepped down in August from the board after he said he thought it was time to move on and wanted to spend more time with his family, particularly his grandchildren.
Sheridan served on the board for 13 years with five years as chairman.
Hanks, who was first appointed to the Finance Board in July 2019 and then reappointed in June of this year, said Sheridan was a very good chairman whom he learned from.
“He had a lot of knowledge of the town which I hope to continue and follow in his footsteps,” Hanks said.
Sheridan was in this fifth three-year term and had two more years in his current term.
Hanks joined the Naugatuck Fire Department as a volunteer in 1982 before becoming a full-time member in 1985 and retiring in 2015. He was appointed as the deputy fire chief in July 2021 for a three-year contract.
“I’ve always been interested in the finance side of town government,” Hanks said. “It has always interested me.”
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, who is also a finance board member and recommended Hanks to lead the board, previously said Hanks would not vote on fire matters.
Hanks said he has not participated in votes relating to fire matters when he was a regular member and he won’t get involved in those discussions as chairman.
Hanks, who is on the board of directors for both Naugatuck Ambulance and the Historical Society as well, said his goal as chairman is to keep the tax rate down and take care of town priorities since he’s a taxpayer too.
“No one wants to see an increase in the mill rate,” Hanks said.
Finance Board members will begin to meet for the budget season in January and will meet about every week until May to make sure to present a responsible budget to the taxpayers, Hanks said.