Chair: Annual Update from Board of Finance

As the Board of Finance does each year, this is an update on our current budget and tax projections as we close out our 2019/2020 budget on June 30th as well as an overview of our new 2020/2021 budget that begins on July 1st. As always, and especially this year, I can never thank our volunteers across the town, our town employees, our volunteers on many Boards and Commissions, our Town Council, our Board of Education, and our First Selectman enough – they make an incredible effort on our behalf in order to keep our town in great shape in every way. And while that is always true, the past 100 days have truly stressed the system. But our town response has been overwhelmingly positive, from our schools, our residents, the donations people have made, and all the volunteer help across the town. An extra grateful thank you to the volunteers and healthcare workers who have gone above and beyond to support our community and our region.

Moynihan: New Canaan First Responders, Municipal Workers To Be Tested for COVID-19

New Canaan’s first responders and other municipal workers will be tested for the COVID-19 virus Friday through Stamford Hospital, the town’s highest elected official said. The purpose of the testing “is really to give the employees comfort,” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan told members of the Board of Finance during their regular meeting, held Tuesday night via videoconference. 

“I suspect we are going to find very few positive cases and some cases where people may have been sick and didn’t realize it. But I think our overall numbers indicate that the social distancing and the locking down of New Canaan was very successful in limiting the number of cases.”

As of Monday night, New Canaan had 206 total positive cases and 28 people who succumbed to coronavirus disease, officials have said. His update came as the town prepares to see certain business reopen after May with restrictions, as per Gov. Ned Lamont—for example, outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Right now, Moynihan said, about seven municipal workers are in Town Hall on a given day while others work from home, and that officials are working on a plan to have them starting working out of Town Hall, slowly, after May 20 and into June “and continue to not have visitors come into Town Hall to the extent that we can avoid that.”

“We certainly will not have any in-person meetings, consistent with what’s businesses are doing” and “have plans to have the office space configured so that people can socially distance and work safely with masks,” he said.

Town ID’s $695,000 in Planned Capital Spending This Fiscal Year That Could Be Delayed

Saying New Canaan should consider putting off some capital spending in the near term until a clearer picture of the economy emerges, town officials last week identified nearly $700,000 earmarked for the current fiscal year that could be delayed. Prepared with input from public works and district officials as well as the first selectman, the draft list of more than 75 items total $695,000 and range from small expenditures such $29 for signage and striping up to about $63,000 for a solar project at a town building, documents show. Board of Finance Chair Todd Lavieri said the main question now facing the town is whether the spending could be delayed or deferred “until we have a little more clarity.”

“You guys control this,” Lavieri told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Public Works Director Tiger Mann and town CFO Lunda Asmani during the finance board’s April 7 meeting, held via videoconference. “We can’t tell you what to do and how to do this. But I guess it would be our recommendation, or at least our consideration, to hold onto the spending at least for another month until we got more clarity.”

The comments came during a discussion within the finance board and no formal action has been taken on the recommendation. They also came as New Canaan and the nation grapple with a hard stop to the economy that’s seen businesses forced to slow down or shutter altogether for health reasons as unemployment claims soar.

New Canaan Library on Rebuilding Plans: Keeping 1913 Building ‘Not Viable’

In the 15 years that successive New Canaan Library boards have studied the prospect of a rebuilt facility, conducting focus groups and hiring architects to come up with designs, it’s become clear that the best plan for the community requires demolition of what remains of the original structure there, officials said Tuesday. Though they carefully considered a renovation or incorporation of the 1913 building into a future library, “each board came to the same conclusion,” Alicia Wyckoff, a former president of the organization, told members of the Board of Finance during a budget hearing at Town Hall. “In order to get the types of spaces and functions of a modern, 21st Century library that our community is requesting—more programming spaces, meeting and study rooms, more places for the teaching and learning that is so important to our community today—we need to build a new library on a new footprint,” Wyckoff said, speaking on behalf of the library, its board and supporters. “These considerations led to the Midcentury Modern design that pays homage to an historically important architectural movement and one for which New Canaan is well known.”

She added, “Furthermore, as these plans came into focus, it became abundantly clear that it was not viable to retain the 1913 building for a multitude of reasons. First, it is not financially feasible for us.