Town Council

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Officials: Pushback from Neighbors on Stop Signs Planned for Elm and Weed Streets

A plan to install stop signs for Weed Street motorists approaching the intersection at Elm is meeting with resistance from some neighborhood residents, officials said last week. Designed to make it safe for pedestrians using soon-to-be-striped crosswalks that will connect to a new sidewalk running up the west side of Weed Street to Irwin Park, the stop signs could back up traffic, neighbors fear, according to Tiger Mann, director of the Department of Public Works. “The traffic would back up all the way back to Irwin, and then gum up that intersection, especially since there is another stop sign at Frogtown Road intersection,” Mann told members of the Town Council at their March 22 meeting, held at Town Hall. “So to try and stop twice in a small span of time would affect traffic flow.”

The comments came during a discussion of the DPW’s funding request for sidewalk installations and improvements for next fiscal year. The Board of Finance approved $300,000 in spending for sidewalks in fiscal year 2018, town documents show (see page 50 here). Continue Reading →

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New Canaan Treasurer: Former Municipal Employees Retained ‘Login Access’ To Town Bank Accounts

A number of town workers retained login access to town bank accounts even after their employment with the municipality had ended, New Canaan’s treasurer said Wednesday night. In working to ensure that town bank accounts are properly secured, Treasurer Andrew Brooks phoned banks to understand “who are the authorized approvers to move money from those accounts” and found that “a number of former employees, some of whom were very high up in the food chain of the town,” had not been moved from the accounts, he said during a regular meeting of New Canaan’s legislative body. “So I rectified the issue and got those former employees … removed from having any access potentially to those accounts and have their names scrubbed from the account, and I just did that exercise today,” Brooks told members of the Town Council during the group’s meeting, held at Town Hall. The extent of the problem is unknown to Brooks—there are town bank accounts to which he has no access, he said. Continue Reading →

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Seeking Less Costly Option, Town Council Rejects $550,000 Renovation Project at Vine Cottage

Saying they need to understand the building’s long-term purpose first and whether it could be passably restored (and legally occupied) for less money, members of New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday night unanimously rejected a proposal to renovate Vine Cottage for $550,000. The Town Council voted 10-0 against the bond issuance during its regular meeting. Councilman Christa Kenin said that though she appreciates the work that Architectural Preservation Studio, DPC put into a more comprehensive plan for the ca. 1860-built gabled structure, “I was a little surprised to see it on the agenda as a request for a bond.”

“It is a sweet house that needs a lot of work,” Kenin said, yet she’s a member of a recently appointed committee that’s been charged with making recommendations about town-owned buildings “and this is one of buildings that is at the top of our list to evaluate.”

“And I think even approving—whether it’s $550,000 or to come back to $100,000 before it falls to the ground—makes the assumption that we are going to hold onto this building, which may or may not be the case six months from now when we study the 44-plus buildings that the town is responsible for,” she said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Ultimately, the Town Council charged New Canaan’s buildings superintendent with figuring out what would be the least costly project at Vine Cottage to make it inhabitable—by the town’s Human Services Department, its current occupant—for the next several months, until the Town Building Evaluation and Use Committee comes forward with a recommendation on what to do. Continue Reading →

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‘We Will Have To Make Some Hard Decisions’: District Officials Address $1 Million Reduction to Budget Request

The Board of Education in proposing its original 2.76 percent operating budget increase already had factored in year-over-year reductions in spending on employee benefits, contracted services and supplies, officials said last week. Now that the district is faced with, at most, a 1.6 percent operating increase for next year—following a $1 million reduction to its $88.6 million proposal by the Board of Finance—the schools will “have to look at everything,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi told members of the Town Council at their March 15 regular meeting. Since the superintendent’s own original proposed budget increase, the school board went “through the process initially of reducing and making some tough choices about initiatives and programs coming in, so we have to get back to the table and really take a hard look at everything that we have and make some decisions.”

“We will continue to keep an eye on insurance as best we can, but ultimately I will be sitting with the administrative team, we will look at everything with the Board of Education and share with them some options and decisions. It is premature to say specifically ‘this program’ and that program’ but it is going to be our responsibility is to look at it.”

The comments come as the district looks at a $1.38 million increase to its budget—and it may be less, as the Town Council has the ability to reduce it further (though not to add to it)—while it’s contractually required to pay $1.76 million more to employees (mostly teachers). Councilman John Engel asked Luizzi at the meeting: “Where is this cut going to come from?”

“Do you think that it’s fair to say electives are going to be the first things to look at? Continue Reading →

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New Canaan High School Per-Sport Spending [TABLE]

On a per-student, per-season basis and before private donations are applied, New Canaan Public Schools projects next fiscal year to spend the most money among all sports on NCHS girls ice hockey ($2,264), followed by boys ice hockey ($2,094), girls gymnastics ($2,072), girls softball ($1,437) and girls golf ($1,311), according to district officials (see table below). Within the total NCHS athletics program cost of $1.47 million for fiscal year 2018, the varsity football team at an estimated $154,993 by far would garner the highest percentage of spending for any single sport, according to the schools’ budget book. Football’s high participation (158 total athletes across four teams) drives that overall cost, as does its large combined coaching staff of 16—more than twice the next-closest sport (boys’ lacrosse, at seven), according to the data. Overall, NCPS expects to spend about 23.7 percent more on combined boys’ sports versus girls’ sports next year—$589,875 versus $477,033, the data shows. On an average per-student basis, it expects to spend about 11 percent more overall on boys than girls, before shared costs and private contributions are considered, according to the district’s own data. Continue Reading →

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