Town Council Approves 2 Percent Increase to Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

After some final trimming in some areas—notably, increases in police overtime and money for the schools—the Town Council on Wednesday voted to approve an operating budget of $141,211,088 for fiscal year 2016. The figure represents a 2 percent overall year-over-year increase in spending, including a 2.8 percent increase for the Board of Education. Calling this budget season the smoothest in recent memory—thanks in large part to the group’s leadership in Chairman Bill Walbert, Vice Chair Steve Karl and Secretary Kathleen Corbet, as well as Budget Director Jennifer Charneski and Finance Director Dawn Norton—councilmen also praised district officials for the granular level of insight they provided into spending on the schools. Even so, among themselves some debate emerged prior to the vote about a proposal to remove $100,000 from the district’s operating increase (which went through by a 7-4 vote). Calling it “intellectually unsatisfying” to have the funds removed arbitrarily with no explanation, particularly after so many months with multiple town bodies studying the budget, Councilman John Engel sought to preserve the school’s operating budget as it had been.

Waveny Poised for Listing in National Register of Historic Places

Waveny Park—crown jewel of New Canaan, gift of the Laphams and site of so many community touchstones, from youth sports, Mosley Hill and weddings to fireworks, nature hikes and sledding—is poised to take an important step toward listing in the National Register of Historic Places, following an informative public hearing Thursday night. Inclusion in the register puts no restrictions on the property and would allow New Canaan to apply for funds in the form of matching dollar-for-dollar reimbursement grants that could go toward restoring parts of the original Olmsted-designed landscape or work on Waveny House and its many outbuildings—planning, conditions assessments, architects’ fees and feasibility studies, state officials said during a meeting of the Town Council Land Use & Recreation Committee. Waveny is “in wonderful shape right now as far as its integrity is concerned, so you’re starting with a really good product,” said Mary Dunne, administrator of the State Historic Preservation Office. “And so I’m assuming you want to keep it that way,” added Dunne at the hearing, held in the Training Room of the New Canaan Police Department. Attended by more than 20 guests, the hearing followed two public meetings on the matter of listing Waveny on the National Register of Historic Places —first before the Park & Recreation Commission in May, then the full Town Council in July.