Proposed Spending Plan Calls for $250,000 Toward Land Acquisition

The proposed capital spending plan now with the Board of Finance includes $250,000 for land acquisition, a figure that represents five times current spending. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, a longtime proponent of creating and building up the Land Acquisition Fund, noted during a press briefing last week that Westport puts about $250,000 into its own similar fund “and they have $3.2 million” in it now. “I would like to have more built up for land acquisition,” Moynihan said during the briefing, held Feb. 6 in his Town Hall office. “So I am in favor of that general direction.”

The $250,000 request for fiscal year 2021 appears under the Conservation Commission in the proposed capital spending plan that the Board of Selectmen recommend 3-0 last month.

Budget Cuts: Town To Reduce Funding for Landscaping Work Around Several Public Buildings

Town officials are looking to cut back on landscaping work around a handful of public buildings, including Vine Cottage, Powerhouse Theater, Carriage Barn Arts Center, Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School. The proposed budget for next fiscal year removes about $15,000 paid annually to outside contractors in recent years for more frequent weeding and mulching that the Parks & Recreation Commission had pushed for, including during “spring cleanups.”

John Howe, parks superintendent in the Department of Public Works, told members of the Commission during their Jan. 8 meeting, “The hard part I see is that we have been able to have these buildings look great throughout the year.”

“And we are kind of going backwards,” he said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. “Are we in better shape now than we were five years ago? Yes, by a long shot.”

The cutbacks come as the Board of Finance guides municipal departments to reduce operating costs by 2%.