News – Be Informed


The New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee wants to help keep you informed of significant town events and news from our elected officials.

Our Town runs because people volunteer their time for these Boards and Commissions and we welcome your participation.


This is another important year for all of us, with the budget referendum coming this spring, and a state election later this year.  We will provide you information on these and other events, as well as information on Board and Commission vacancies here.

Also stay informed by looking at important Letters to the Editor.


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, May 12, 2022, PAGE 2

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Annual Town Budget Vote

The Annual Town Budget vote will be held this Saturday, May 14 from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM. All voting will be held at New Fairfield Middle School located at 56 Gillotti Road.

All registered voters in the Town of New Fairfield are eligible to vote at referendum.  You are also qualified to vote on the budget if you own property with a value of at least $1,000 on the New Fairfield Grand List as of October 2021.

Absentee Ballots are available for the budget vote for registered voters meeting one of the following criteria:

  1.  active service in the Armed Forces of the United States
  2. absence from the town during all voting hours
  3. sickness
  4. physical disability
  5. religious tenets, which forbid secular activity on the day of the referendum
  6. duties as a referendum official at a polling place other than your own during all of the hours of voting.

The absentee ballot application for referendum is available in the Town Clerk’s office or on our website at  by clicking on the “News” article on the right side of the home page entitled “Annual Budget Referendum.”

Lock your Cars!

Unfortunately, we are experiencing an uptick in car break-ins as the weather gets warmer.  The police remind all residents to lock your car doors and remove all purses, wallets, valuables and key fobs from your vehicle.  They also ask that if you notice that multiple motion sensor activated lights are turning on in your neighborhood in a short period of time, please call 911.  We know that the individuals committing these crimes will come back to areas where they know that there are unlocked vehicles to steal.  Please lock your doors!

Sip & Stroll

Sip & Stroll is back!  The event will be held on Saturday, May 21 from 4:00 – 8:00 (rain or shine).  On-line registration is open!  There are a limited number of glasses- so purchase yours ASAP by visiting our website , and clicking on Municipal Departments and Parks and Recreation.   You must be 21 to participate and bring ID to the check in @ Town Hall where you will receive the map of participating businesses and your sip glass.  Come see all that our small businesses have to offer and enjoy the stroll!

Water Test Day

The New Fairfield Water Pollution Control Authority will be offering drinking water testing on Saturday, May 21 from 8:00 AM to noon at Stop & Shop.  Pick up your kit, return home to collect your water sample and return the sample to the WPCA at Stop & Shop.  The water will be tested for bacteria, hardness, sodium, chloride, nitrates and pH.  Results will be mailed back to you.  A representative from AQUA Environmental Labs will be available to answer any questions you may have.  There is a $50.00 fee per test.

Housatonic Area Regional Transit (HART) SweetHART Bus 

The Board of Selectmen is currently seeking applications to fill a vacancy on the HART Board of Directors.  The Town of New Fairfield contracts with HART to provide door-to-door paratransit service (SweetHART) for Seniors age 60 or older or persons of any age with disabilities.  Representatives of each of the Towns served by the SweetHART Bus comprise the Board of Directors governing the service.  If you are interested in serving on the Board, please send a Letter of Interest to me at


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, May 5, 2022, PAGE 2

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2022/2023 BUDGET

After much deliberation and public input, the Board of Finance approved the FY 2022/2023 budget on April 30.  The budget totals $55,239,449, representing a mill rate increase of 3.11% over last year.  Increases in the budget were driven by contractual salary increases, increased utility costs, a substantial increase for road paving, non-discretionary increases in Special Education costs and costs associated with pandemic recovery.  The greatest increase in the proposed budget is the increase in debt service on the new schools, which was predicted as this is the peak year of bonding for the projects.  The budget includes Town and School operating costs and capital expenditures, debt service for the new schools, non-tax revenue and medical insurance costs.  Some components of the budget contribute to an increase in the mill rate, and some lessen the impact of the increases.   Several things worked in our favor this year to keep the mill rate increase as low as possible, including an increase in the taxable grand list, slightly higher non-tax revenue projections and the application of bond premiums to reduce the debt service.

The Town’s taxable grand list increased by 2.7% last year, mostly attributed to the increased value of motor vehicles and new home construction.  When the grand list increases, there are more dollars per mill, resulting in a lower mill rate.  The Board of Finance also chose to accelerate the application of bond premiums to reduce the impact of the increase in debt service for the new schools.  Contrary to information that has been posted elsewhere, bond premiums are not borrowed funds.  Premiums are the result of coupons generated at the time of bond issuance. The Town can use those premiums to pay down the debt over time, either in equal installments over the life of the bonds, or in any other installment as they choose. Because this year is the peak year of bonding and the year with the steepest increase in debt service, the BOF chose to apply more bond premium to the debt service this year to reduce the impact on the mill rate. To prevent a budgetary hole, the BOF will continue to apply a decreasing amount of premium to the debt service line to mitigate an impact to future mill rate increases.

I would also like to point out that it is dangerous to compare mill rate increases in other towns to the mill rate increase in New Fairfield.  Each town is unique, and towns including Danbury, Ridgefield, New Milford, Bethel and Brookfield that have substantially larger taxable grand lists and more growth in residential and commercial development than New Fairfield will have lower mill rate increases for similar expenditure increases.  Further, each town employs different tools to reduce the impact of budgetary increases.  For example, Ridgefield used a contribution from their general fund this year to reduce the mill rate increase, a practice that is not allowed by our BOF.  New Milford used proceeds from a legal settlement to offset some of their expenses which lowered their mill rate increase.  As explained above, there are many components to municipal budgets, each with an impact on the final mill rate increase.

I encourage you to vote in support of the 2022/2023 budget.  Recent increases in the cost of fuel, contracted services and special education costs have already negatively impacted the budget that has been approved by the Board of Finance.  Further cuts to either budget will result in further reductions in programs and services provided by both the Town and the schools.  Please keep in mind that this is the peak year of school project bonding, and that the increases in debt service and the corresponding tax increase will decline from this point forward.


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, April 28, 2022, PAGE 2

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Many residents have asked me to consider a Community Center in New Fairfield.  I am not opposed to the idea of a Community Center, but I do believe that several important questions that need to be answered before any decisions are made.  With that in mind, I have proposed setting aside $25,000 of American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for a feasibility study to explore the possibility of a Community Center.  At the last ARPA working group meeting, I suggested a study that would bring together the public and other stakeholders to answer questions such as what would residents like to see in a Community Center?  If you ask five different people that question, you will get five different answers ranging from a space with meeting rooms to a facility with a gym, outdoor pool and playing fields and everything in between.  Each one of those concepts requires a different amount and type of space.  For example, how much property do we need?  How large a building and associated septic system is necessary?  Does the Town own a suitable piece of property to meet these needs?  How will the facility be staffed and maintained?  After developing a concept, a cost estimate will be developed using the input from stakeholders and then, a decision can be made on how to move forward.  The question will eventually come down to how to pay for such a facility and is there widespread support amongst taxpayers to foot the bill for another multi-million dollar facility on the heels of two new schools.  It is also worth noting that the school construction project provides that the existing High School gym will remain intact for public use, and the pool locker rooms will be renovated to allow for public use of the existing pool.

Many have asked why we can’t convert the existing Consolidated School to a Community Center as other Towns in the area have done with old school buildings.  The simple answer is that the existing building doesn’t have “good bones.”  The original building was constructed in 1941, and was added on to over time, with the most recent addition completed in 2000.  Prior to the decision to build new schools, Consolidated and the High School were evaluated by qualified architects and engineers from the BOE’s architectural firm, QA&M.  Their findings pertaining to the Consolidated School building included structural issues including a failing foundation on the northern end of the building, a leaking roof and windows, lack of insulation, aging and end of life HVAC systems, cracks between the additions to the building, elevated ground water levels causing intermittent flooding in the basement affecting the electrical switches, hazardous materials in the building materials including asbestos, lead and PCBs and compliance issues with the latest building, fire, ADA and life safety codes.  In the unlikely case that a part of the building was found to be salvageable for a new use, all of these issues would need to be resolved at significant cost to the taxpayers.  This includes the demolition of the unsalvageable parts of the building which would no longer be eligible for state reimbursement.  This approach is unlikely to provide a cost-effective result, or a Community Center designed for the needs of the Community.

Annual Town Meeting

The annual town meeting will be held at 6:30pm on May 3, 2022, in the Senior Center for the purpose of setting the date for a machine vote on the FY 2022/23 budget.


By Khris Hall, Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Khris 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, April 28, 2022, PAGE 3

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So, now it’s up to you, New Fairfielders, to determine the budget for our schools and municipal services for Fiscal Year 2022-23, which starts on July 1.  A budget referendum with machine vote will be scheduled at a special Town Meeting on May 3rd, with a likely date of Saturday, May 14th.

The budget process this year was unlike any I’ve seen, with Finance Committee meetings ending with a 3-3 tie vote for several weeks in a row.  Meetings ran very long, often past 10PM, with one ending after midnight, as new Finance Board members wrangled with incumbent members on the size of the budget increase to put before voters.  Unlike the past several years, discussions were not always civil and in one instance featured references that several members of the public found objectionable.

Besides the length of the meetings, the other unusual feature of the meetings was the sizable and vocal participation of New Fairfield residents voicing their opposition to cuts to the budgets the Boards of Selectmen and Education presented to the Board of Finance in early March.  In past years, the Board of Finance has begged for public participation and guidance – and gotten very little of either.  This year, it was not unusual to have over 100 residents on the zoom meeting, with all lining up to tell the new Board of Finance members that they should send the budgets to residents for decision, rather than making what they viewed as harmful cuts to the schools and town budgets.  In a display of endurance and passion, there were still over 100 people on the zoom meeting on April 13 that went past midnight speaking against cutting the budgets.

What I heard at those meetings is overwhelming support for the critical role our schools have played in our journey to return to normal after COVID – and opposition to budget cuts that might jeopardize those programs necessary to move forward.  I heard support for Town programs to maintain funding for the fire and police departments as well as infrastructure programs.  It troubles me that most of the new Board members were willing to ignore what they were hearing from so many residents and to try to block forward movement on the budget for several weeks.

A compromise was finally found at the April 20th meeting, which kept the education and municipal budgets intact, but found a way to lower the percent increase to taxpayers by making use of more bond premiums from the school construction debt process and increasing the estimated revenue the Town will take in next fiscal year.  These are both low risk approaches that should have had the support of all Board members, in my opinion.  Two new members of the Board continued, however, to oppose a solution to move things forward.

Voters will vote on a proposed municipal budget of $14,853,330 and a proposed school budget of $48,330,447.  Included in the overall budget proposal are payments we are making on the bonds for construction of two new schools, health insurance costs for municipal and school employees, and ongoing funding for town infrastructure, such as road repair.  The proposed budget preserves the budget increases requested by the Boards of Education and Selectmen, which the overwhelming majority of those commenting supported.  The proposal does not address the net additional $285,000 of unanticipated special education costs the Board of Education asked to be considered at a special BoE April 20th meeting.  These new unanticipated costs make full funding of the originally requested Board of Education budget even more critical.

The bottom line is that, if approved, voters will see a 3.11 percent increase year-over-year in the property taxes paid to support the Town and schools.  This is slightly higher than last year’s increase (2.98 percent), but consistent with the history of budget increases in New Fairfield.  It is well under cost-of-living increase of approximately 6 percent, which impacts the Town and Schools as much as residents.  Given everything we’ve been through and the fact that this includes payments for building two new schools, this is a reasonable proposal and deserves support.  For a household with a current property tax bill of $7000, this will result in an increased annual tax bill of approximately $217.85, or $18.15 a month.  The school and municipal budget requests as submitted can be viewed at:

The budget approved by the Board of Finance that will go to the voters can be viewed at:

As they say, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”  Turnout at budget referenda is often low.  This year, especially, that needs to change.  I believe the overwhelming support for the proposed budgets heard in the weekly meetings at the Board of Finance is clear.   It is crucial that those many voices – as well of the voices of all those who support our Town and Schools — are heard once again in support of the budget proposals in next month’s referendum.  As indicated above, the date for the referendum is likely to be Saturday, May 14.


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, April 21, 2022, PAGE 2

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Earth Day allows us a day each year to reflect and remember the significance of the health of the planet and what we can all do to help.  In observation of Earth Day, the Town encourages residents to participate in Community Clean Up Day on Saturday, April 23 by picking up trash along the roadside in your neighborhood.  You may stop by the Selectman’s office for a coupon for disposal of one large bag of trash at the Drop Off Center at no charge.   Cleaning up our roadsides not only keeps New Fairfield beautiful, but reducing waste and plastic pollution improves habitats, and prevents harm to wildlife and humans.

In the 1960’s, Americans were becoming aware of the impact of pollution on the environment.  Rachel Carson published her well known book, Silent Spring, in 1962, and later in that decade, oil covered debris in the Cuyahoga River caught fire, drawing further attention to the consequences of pollution in our water, air and soil.  In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson introduced the concept of Earth Day to educate people around the world about protecting our planet.

With the help of volunteers and staff, the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. On that day, an estimated 20 million people participated in rallies across the country. Rallies were held in most major American cities, including New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago. The first Earth Day was effective at raising awareness about environmental issues and transforming public attitudes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Public opinion polls indicate that a permanent change in national priorities followed Earth Day 1970. When polled in May 1971, 25 percent of the U.S. public declared protecting the environment to be an important goal, a 2,500 percent increase over 1969.”

Increased awareness of environmental issues led to significant legislation in the 1970s, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. In December 1970, Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency, which was tasked with protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment—air, water and land.

Since 1970, Earth Day has grown in popularity, becoming globally recognized in 1990.  According to the Earth Day Network (EDN), a nonprofit organization that coordinates Earth Day activities, over 200 million people in 174 nations participate in Earth Day events annually. This year’s theme is “Invest in Our Planet” and features five primary programs: The Great Global Cleanup, Sustainable Fashion, Climate and Environmental Literacy, The Canopy Project, Food and Environment, and the Global Earth Challenge.  For more information, visit

Community Clean Up Day


By Khris Hall, Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Khris 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 31, 2022, PAGE 3

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New Fairfield voters will have an important opportunity in May to cast their votes on the proposed budget to fund our schools and town services.

The process of determining the FY22/23 budget is moving forward in weekly meetings of the Board of Finance, which has the authority to make the final determination of what is put before taxpayers.  In the past four years, the Boards of Education, Selectmen, and Finance have worked well together to keep property taxes low while still providing the funding necessary to preserve the high quality of education, first responder support, infrastructure, and social services we want – and too often take for granted.

This year is a different story.  The politics have changed on the Board of Finance, with many new members who have never before been through this complicated process.  COVID has left its mark on our schools and increased the need for remedial services for children who fell behind in educational attainment.  Municipal needs for road paving and infrastructure repair have continued to grow.  Inflation is increasing energy prices for running our schools and town buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure.  And we are hitting the year when bonding costs for two new schools are at their peak.

The result has been long, contentious sessions of the Board of Finance, with members struggling to come to terms with the legitimate, increased funding requests required to deal with the outfall from COVID and inflation.  Finding the balance, given this year’s difficult circumstances, is tougher given the lack of experience of the new Board of Finance members and their focus on cutting taxes.

Both the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen put together lean budgets, which were passed unanimously by their respective Boards.  It is interesting to note that the Board of Education is chaired by a Republican and has a Republican majority, with all members supporting the need for increased funding to address lingering achievement problems from COVID.  Additionally, both the BoE and the BoS are taking advantage of state and federal COVID funding to address projects and programs that qualify, thus removing costs from the normal budget process. There is no fat in either budget, in my opinion.  Cuts to the funding requests will result in staff cuts or program/service reductions.

Once the town and school requests are added together with bonding costs (minus the use of premiums), the proposed property tax increase at this stage of discussions would be about 3.68%.  This is not a final number, since more information on health insurance costs and expected revenue needs to be factored in.  And the Board of Finance may choose to override the opinion of the BoS or BoE and cut more funding.

A property tax increase of 3.68% is well within the range approved by voters over the last sixteen years, as illustrated in the table below.  It is also well below the Cost of Living increase this year of 5.9%, which seniors saw in increased Social Security payments.  Many area towns are also discussing property tax increases in this range, as they all are experiencing the same challenges we are facing:  the need for additional educational resources to address damage from COVID, increased costs of special education programs, and climbing costs due to inflation.  Since this increase includes bonding costs for two new schools (which no other area town is experiencing this year), a 3.68% increase is, in my opinion, reasonable and should be sent to the voters for their opinion.  Given the circumstances, it is a testament to the hard work done by all three Boards to hold other expenses down and find alternative means of funding necessary projects and programs.

Mill Rate Tax Rate and changes since 2005 v3

The Board of Finance appears focused on cutting the budget for the Board of Education.  I believe that significant cuts would jeopardize the path to recovery from the educational losses from COVID and call into question our ability as a town to meet the needs of our most vulnerable students.  Significant cuts to the Board of Selectmen budget could result in reductions to infrastructure repair, including road paving, an action taken by the Town to reduce costs years in a row.

The issue is now in the hands of the Board of Finance – and its newest members.  By State statute, the BoF has six members, who appear evenly split between those who want to present the budget requested by the BoS and BoE to voters with minimal adjustments and those who want to make larger cuts.  Discussion has, unfortunately, included misinformation and lack of civility — very different from past years.  I am hoping for better in the next few weeks.


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 24, 2022, PAGE 2

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On Saturday, March 5, the Boards of Selectmen and Education presented the FY 2022-2023 operating and capital budgets for the Town and Schools to the Board of Finance.  The proposed Town budget increased by 3.15%, or $404,907 year to year, and the proposed BOE budget increased by 3.52%, or$1,460,438, year to year.  In total, these increases represent a 3.86% increase in the municipal operating budget over last year.  Increases in both budgets were driven by contractual salary increases and increased utility costs.  The BOS budget also included a substantial increase for road paving, and the BOE budget included increases resulting from Special Education costs and costs associated with pandemic recovery.

The operating and capital budgets comprise about 80% of total budget expenditures with the remaining 20% made up by medical insurance and debt service.  Non-taxpayer revenue, adjustments to property taxes and the change in the taxable grand list also influence the annual change in the mill rate.  SOME COMPONENTS OF THE BUDGET CONTRIBUTE TO AN INCREASE IN THE MILL RATE, AND SOME LESSON THE IMPACT OF THE INCREASES.  After accounting for the increase in debt service for the two new schools, a 2.7% increase in the taxable grand list, and a 2.9% increase in non-tax revenues, the projected increase in the mill rate is 4.8%.  However, the BOF has not yet made adjustments to the proposed budget.  For example, the Board may choose to reduce the operating budgets, or to reduce the contribution to debt service by applying bond premiums in FY 22/23.   Further, final numbers for contributions to the medical fund and state revenue are not yet available.  Bottom line is – IT IS TOO EARLY IN THE PROCESS TO DETERMINE HOW ALL OF THE COMPONENTS OF THE BUDGET WILL COME TOGETHER TO AFFECT THE MILL RATE.

At last week’s BOF meeting, a member incorrectly referred to an expected 11% increase in taxes.  The calculations used to arrive at that number were inaccurate.   As mentioned above, the projected increase in the mill rate at this point is 4.8%.  The BOF meets every Wednesday evening in March at 7:30 to discuss and “mark-up” the budget.    ZOOM links for the meetings can be found on the home page of the Town website,   Please join the meetings, ask questions, and provide input to our Board members.  The municipal budget is YOUR budget – please participate!


We are currently taking orders for Military Hometown Hero Banners to honor and recognize hometown Veterans and active-duty members of the United States Armed Forces. If you are interested in purchasing a Hero Banner to be displayed in the center of Town annually from Memorial Day through Veterans Day, please submit an application before April 29.  After that date, requests will be accepted on a year-round basis and banners will be printed when the required minimum quantity is reached.

Banners will display the official military photo of the service person, as well as their name and branch of the United States Armed Forces. We are asking sponsors to contribute $40 toward the cost of each banner. To qualify for the Military Banner Program, the honoree must be a Veteran or currently serving as an active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces, and he or she must currently reside in New Fairfield or have an immediate family member residing in New Fairfield (parent, spouse, sibling, son or daughter).

To order a banner, please print and complete the form found here:

Digital photos, if available, provide the highest quality banner.  You may e-mail your photo to:

Please mail your completed form and a $40 check made payable to “Town of New Fairfield “ to:

Town of New Fairfield

Selectman’s Office

4 Brush Hill Road

New Fairfield, CT 06812


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 17, 2022, PAGE 2

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The proposed location for the school bus parking lot has been the subject of quite a bit of discussion lately.  I think it is important to summarize the steps that the Permanent Building Committee (PBC) has taken to evaluate alternative locations for the lot.  When the school construction projects were approved by voters in October 2019, the location of the bus lot was proposed in the same location as it is today, making it a part of the CELA project.  The funds available for CELA are capped at the amount approved at referendum, $29 million.  If one element of the project costs more than what was budgeted, the difference must come from another part of the project.  There are no additional funds available.

School Bus Operations

Currently, there are 24 school buses and 9 vans utilized by the district.  In 2019, a majority of the school bus fleet was replaced, completing a multi-year upgrade to all new buses. At this time, all school buses are clean burning diesel and comply with Tier 4 emissions standards. Engines are equipped with quiet exhaust manifolds and SCR/DEF technology, which also produces a low decibel exhaust tone. No maintenance or fueling occurs on the school buses at the school bus lot.  Once per year, a contractor is hired to wash the buses in the lot.  All school buses fuel at the town fueling station at the Company A Firehouse.

We are fortunate to have a PBC comprised of seasoned, licensed professionals who are experts in their respective fields.  The Committee is comprised of 5 Professional Engineers and a Senior Construction Manager who have decades of experience designing, managing, and constructing large building projects.  In light of public concern, I supported the effort of the PBC to investigate alternative sites for the bus lot.  In collaboration with the project design team, the Committee evaluated seven alternative sites, as outlined below.  Based on their professional expertise, the Committee concluded that five of the seven alternatives considered are not feasible locations for the bus lot, and authorized design and cost estimates to explore the two remaining locations.

School Bus Parking Lot Location

As part of the design process, various locations for the school bus lot were explored both within New Fairfield and outside of Town.  The sites explored that were not considered for further design or estimating are described below:

1. Drop Off Center

  Advantages:  Town owned property.


  • Landfill restricts usable area.
  • Requires extensive improvement to access driveway.
  • Bigelow Road cannot support higher volumes of bus traffic.
  • Site is not eligible for State reimbursement.

2. MHHS Property behind CoA Firehouse

Advantages:  Town owned property, located close to current bus lot.


  • Steep slopes would require significant earth work to reach an acceptable grade for bus traffic.
  • Increases traffic on new MHHS/CELA site.
  • Requires re-routing busses through surrounding neighborhoods to reduce congestion on Gillotti Road when busses return to lot after student drop off.
  • Added cost of approximately $500,000 in design and construction costs.

3. HS Practice Fields adjacent to West Exit:

Advantages:  Town owned property


  • Loss of practice fields for youth sports.
  • Located within wetlands upland review area.
  • Increased bus traffic in/out of HS property.


4. Privately Owned lot on Dunham Drive

Advantages:   Previously approved by Zoning Commission for vehicle storage.


  • The bus company rejected the site because the steep grade of entry driveway is unsafe for bus traffic.
  • The site requires further development to accommodate bus parking.
  • Additional operating cost (lease) added to Town /BOE budget.
  • Not eligible for State grant reimbursement.

5. Possible out of town location

Advantages:  Does not require construction of a bus lot.


  • Loss of $30,000 in annual property tax revenue.
  • Additional operating cost (lease) added to Town /BOE budget.
  • Bus Company does not have additional space in neighboring bus depots.

The PBC, committed to selecting an option which was in the best interest of all residents, and which did not require the reduction of educational programing or educational space, authorized $26,500 in additional design and estimating fees to fully explore the two options described below.

6. Consolidated Site, Busses located from N-S (where existing school is located)

Advantages: Current town owned property.  State reimbursement 38.22%


  • Added cost of $37,750 in design costs and $653,740 in construction costs.
  • Added costs require reduction in educational programming.

7. High School adjacent to Playground and Dog Park

Advantages:  Current Town owned property


  • Increases bus traffic in high use area of athletic activity, playground, and dog park.
  • Added cost of $54,500 in design costs and $413,165 in construction costs.
  • State grant reimbursement equal to 19.11% of eligible costs.
  • Added costs require reduction in educational programming.

Each of the locations described above presented financial, logistical, or operational challenges that led to the conclusion that the most viable location for the school bus lot is on the site of the existing Consolidated School.  The Committee concluded that the most viable location for the school bus lot is on the northwest corner of the property, where the loading dock is currently located.  The drawing below illustrates the relative location of the bus lot.  In response to concerns from the public, the PBC is considering a driveway exiting on Gillotti Road.

Bus Lot Project 220317


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 10, 2022, PAGE 2

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Selectman’s Update


I am very pleased to announce the launch of a monthly e-Newsletter highlighting important news, activities and events in New Fairfield.  I am always looking for new ways to communicate information to New Fairfield residents, and I hope that you find this addition helpful.  The link to the Newsletter can be found on the Town website, in the upper right hand corner of the homepage.  On your mobile device, click on the menu icon in the upper left hand corner of the homepage to find the “Monthly Newsletter” link.  There is an option to subscribe to the Newsletter via e-mail.  The March issue includes updates on school construction, ARPA funding, the municipal budget, introductions to new employees and highlights of some activities going on in Town during the month.


Eversource will be trimming trees this month in the Ball Pond area and near the Sherman border on Route 37.  Trees will be trimmed along the following roads: Hardscrabble, Laurel Lane, Lost Acre Terrace, Big Trail, Amber Dr, Twin Ponds Ct, Jewel Lane, Warwick Rd., Satterlee, Hudson, Roseton, Hewlett, Hammond, Ilion, Ansonia, Fulton, Calverton, Darien, Ball Ave, Fairfield Dr, Milltown Rd, Ball Pond Rd East, Gillotti Road (to Titicus Mnt. Rd), Lake Dr, Jessie St and Frisbie St, Titicus Mtn. Rd.  You can learn more about Eversource Vegetation Management on their website,


On a related note, Connecticut DEEP will begin cleaning up damaged and fallen trees in the Pootatck State Forest within the next few weeks.  After numerous delays due to wet ground, the logger’s schedule, and markets for wood, they are planning to salvage some of the damaged timber in the Forest in the vicinity of 78 Short Woods Road.  In addition, some standing trees will be removed to provide access for the machinery.  The salvaged logs will be used for lumber, railroad ties, pallets, and firewood.

Although the State has frontage on the town road, the access will be from the private driveway of 78 Short Woods Road, with permission from the owner.  Depending on weather, ground conditions, and the logger’s schedule, the work should start sometime in the next few weeks and last for a few months.

Link to the New Fairfield Newsletter –

Link to Subscribe to the Newsletter – 


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 3, 2022, PAGE 2

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Selectman’s Update


I am very grateful to report that a group of dedicated volunteers has established a New Fairfield chapter of FISH (Friends in Service Here) to provide rides to medical and dental appointments in the New Fairfield area when family, friends or the HART bus are unavailable to help those in need.  Rides are also provided to locations within New Fairfield borders such as the Library, Senior Center, grocery stores and food bank.  The service is provided free of charge Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, weather permitting.

To schedule a ride, residents should call (203) 312-5627 and leave a message.  A FISH scheduler will then contact a volunteer driver who will return your call and work out the details of your trip.  If you have a home health aide, the aide must accompany you on the ride.  All clients must be able to get in and out of the vehicle without assistance, and FISH cannot transport individuals in wheelchairs.

If you are interested in volunteering with FISH, please call (203) 312-5627 or e-mail your name and phone number to  Volunteers must be at least 25 years old, have a valid driver’s license and complete a background check.  Volunteers can set their schedules according to their availability on a month-to-month basis with no long-term commitment.  If you are unable to volunteer but would like to offer financial support to the organization, please send your donation to FISH of NF, 6 Bayview Terrace, New Fairfield, CT  06812.


As a convenience to our residents, the New Fairfield Health Department has arranged for PCR testing in New Fairfield. Testing is by appointment only, Monday – Friday at Company A Firehouse (302 Ball Pond Road) at no cost to the Town or patient.  Appointments should be scheduled at  If you do not have access to a computer, you may contact the Selectman’s Office at 203-312-5640 for assistance making an appointment.

Board and Commission Vacancies

There are currently vacancies on the New Fairfield Prevention Council and Zoning Board of Appeals.  The NFPC Mission Statement describes the organization as follows: “The New Fairfield Prevention Council promotes positive, safe, and healthy lifestyles. We foster dialogue, raise awareness, and educate the community on substance use and mental health. We engage with youth, families, and community through creative, innovative programs to build safe and healthy neighborhoods.”  More information about the work of the NFPC can be found on the Town website under the “Community” tab.

The Zoning Board of Appeals is chartered by state statute and consists of five regular members and three alternates. The ZBA’s primary mission is to consider and, when justified, grant relief from zoning regulations to properties burdened by a hardship. The Board also hears appeals of orders issued by the Zoning Enforcement Officer and certain decisions of the Zoning Commission.  More information about ZBA can be found on the Town website under the “Our Town” tab.


By Khris Hall, Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Khris 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, March 3, 2022, PAGE 3

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Last week the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved two documents that set up the framework for a community conversation and decisions on housing opportunities in New Fairfield.  As outlined in more detail below, we approved a charter for establishing a Housing Opportunities Committee and also approved a draft Affordable Housing plan that will meet state requirements to submit such plan by June of this year.

Affordable housing is a controversial topic in many towns, including New Fairfield.  When I retired in 2015 and became a reporter for the Citizen News, a proposed affordable housing development off Rita Drive was one of the first town controversies I covered.  The proposal died, in part due to community opposition.  The issue re-emerged a few years ago when the Commission on Aging issued a report documenting the need and demand for affordable housing for Seniors.

And now the issue is back, front and center, with last summer’s new State law that requires all towns to submit an Affordable Housing Plan by June.  This requirement is a softer compromise from original drafts of the bill that contained stronger state mandates on affordable housing.

At the same time, it’s clear to me that the demand for more affordable housing has increased.  I personally know seniors who want to stay in New Fairfield but want to downsize – but can’t afford what’s currently available here.  I know a number of young people who have graduated and are living with their parents.  I have heard of volunteer firefighters who have moved from New Fairfield because they can’t afford to live here.

The State requirement is that 10 percent of our housing stock should be affordable.  Our stock of affordable housing is 1.29%.  We are not alone.  Many other towns similarly have a ways to go to meet State requirements.  Meeting the State requirement will take time and won’t be easy.  We have to make a good faith effort to move our stock of affordable housing higher.

There have been persistent suggestions on social media that we intend to bring high-rise public housing to New Fairfield and that we are proposing to build a sewer to support high-rise public housing.  None of that is true.  There are a number of options to increase affordable housing that have nothing to do with high-rise public housing and all discussions of the sewer have focused on current zoning restrictions.

With this in mind, the Board of Selectmen approved:

  1. A charter for establishing a Housing Opportunities Committee, composed of 5-7 residents. The Committee will be bipartisan and represent a cross-section of interests.  This mandate tells the Committee what it should do, including holding public forums on the issue, communicating information on housing, and making recommendations to the Planning Commission, the Zoning Commission, and the BoS on concrete steps we should take to increase the variety in our housing stock.  The meetings of the Committee will be public.  I anticipate the Board of Selectmen will make appointments to this Committee within the month.
  2. A draft Affordable Housing Plan to be submitted, as required by State law, to the State in June.  We are working with the Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCoG), which has provided a template to all its members and pulled out valuable information on our demographics and housing.  They’ve also included commitments the Town made in our current (2014) Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) on affordable housing – none of which we’ve met.  We added language to the template to state that our Affordable Housing Plan is to establish the Housing Opportunities Committee as a starting point.

The Board of Selectmen approved these two documents for the following reasons:  First, it’s the right thing to do.  The need is there.  It’s been documented.  We need to get started on meeting that need.

Second, this approach allows us to control our destiny.  The State General Assembly came very close to passing broad state mandates for affordable housing last year.  None of us likes state mandates.  We need to find the creative solutions to this issue that fit New Fairfield.  The Committee we established is the best way to do that.  We approved this approach unanimously and with the support of Representative Pat Callahan.  I look forward to launch of the Committee and this important work.

Links for the following documents are below:


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, February 24, 2022, PAGE 2

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Budget Presentation to BOF Saturday, March 5

On Saturday, March 5, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) and the Board of Education will present the municipal and education budgets for the 2022-2023 fiscal year to the Board of Finance (BOF).   Throughout the month of March, the Board of Finance will hold weekly meetings to discuss, ask questions, make adjustments and ultimately approve a budget to send to the taxpayers for approval.  The BOS budget is also referred to as the “Town” budget – the budget that specifies how revenues will be expended to provide services to residents, and it accounts for approximately 25% of the total Municipal Budget.  As taxpayers, it is critical for us to understand why there is an increase in the budget, where tax revenue is being spent, and what services we want our town to provide.  Today’s column focuses on how the BOS developed the Town budget, and will touch on some of the proposed expenditures in the budget.

The BOS budget determines how the town will distribute tax dollars to fund services such as police, fire, emergency response, road repair and paving, maintenance of town buildings and parks, social services, animal control, senior center programs and the public library. The budget also provides funding for intergovernmental services such as HART Transit, household hazardous waste disposal and the Candlewood Lake Authority.  The BOS compiles the budget based upon meetings with each department head.  These knowledgeable employees develop budgets line by line based on prior years’ experience, professional knowledge and upcoming projects.  This year, the BOS held eight public budget workshops to gather this information and discuss the requests.  At the conclusion of the workshops, the department requests increased $957,519 over last year.

Recognizing the pressures on this year’s budget related to increased bonding for the new schools and inflationary increases in the cost of utilities, goods and services, the BOS took steps to make reductions in both the Town operating and capital budgets.   After careful review, the BOS was able to reduce the requested capital increase by $431,607 by funding necessary capital requests with existing funds and deferring less critical projects and purchases to future years.  The capital requests that we were able to fund include active shooter kits for the police department, repairs to the Animal Control building  and Town Hall Annex, a replacement for a 2008 truck for the Health Department and purchase of a replacement  AC unit for Ball Pond firehouse.  We also reduced operating costs by $121,012 by making adjustments in payroll and using existing funds for necessary expenditures requested by Animal Control and the Ball Pond Advisory Committee.

At the end of the process, the BOS voted unanimously to approve a municipal budget totaling $13,265,589, an increase of $404,907 or 3.15% over last year.  The majority of the increase includes:

  • $150,000 in contractual salary increases for Town union employees, and $11,000 in the Registrar of Voters salary budget attributable to state legislative redistricting,
  • $92,000 in increased utility costs, including electricity, fuel oil, gasoline and diesel,
  • $29,000 in Public Works contracted services (Many of our contractors, including plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors and landscapers have kept their contract prices flat for several years, but the increase in the cost of fuel, labor and materials has necessitated increases in their pricing.)
  • $105,000 to restore a portion of the road repair budget cut in previous years necessary to continue repair and maintenance of Town roads.

The BOS budget is just one piece of the Municipal budget.  Other components of the budget include the taxable grand list, medical insurance, debt service, non-taxpayer revenue, adjustments to property taxes and BOE operating and capital expenses.  Some components of the budget contribute to an increase in the mill rate, and some lessen the impact of the increases.

I have recently seen claims of a looming 8.11% increase in taxes on social media.  The 8.11% mentioned in last week’s Town Tribune refers to the increase in the total of BOE operating expenses and costs associated with the bonding for the new schools.  As mentioned above, other components of the budget, including an above average increase in the taxable grand list,  will mitigate this increase.  It is much too early in the process to determine how all of these components will come together to affect the mill rate. 

I have highlighted the elements of the municipal budget to emphasize the importance of your participation in the budget process.  Please plan to attend or watch the Budget presentation beginning at 9:00 AM on Saturday, March 5.  I also encourage you to attend the BOF meetings which will be held every Wednesday evening in March.  ZOOM links for the meetings can be found on the home page of the Town website,   Ask questions; provide input to our Board members.  The municipal budget is YOUR budget – please participate!


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, February 17, 2022, PAGE 2

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When Khris and I first ran for office four years ago, we pledged to work toward filling the empty storefronts in our business/commercial district.  We promised to identify the root causes of the high vacancy rate and to work with property owners and Town officials to find solutions.  Soon after taking office, we established the Economic Development Commission comprised of volunteers with diverse professional backgrounds.  The mission of the EDC is “to attract, promote, retain and engage business in the town while keeping in line with the town’s historic character, small town charm, quality of life and environment.”  The Commission has been instrumental in working with business owners, residents and property owners to better understand the business climate in New Fairfield.

One of the concerns shared by commercial property owners is the lack of adequate water supply and sewer infrastructure to attract a variety of businesses to their properties.   For example, prospective bagel shop, brewery and barber shop owners have declined to open businesses in Town due to water and septic limitations.  Roughly 30 years ago, the Town declined the opportunity to connect to the Regional Waste Treatment Facility located in Danbury.   Reliance on septic systems severely restricts both the types of businesses that can operate in Town and the potential growth of our existing small businesses.  Further, most septic systems in the center of Town are close to 30 years old, and located above the largest drinking water aquifer in New Fairfield, presenting a potential environmental concern should the systems fail.

A sewer feasibility study identifying the potential wastewater volume generated by our existing commercial properties and Town buildings and the technical requirements for a sewer system adequate for that flow has been completed using budgeted funds over the past two years. The next step would be to complete the system design, obtain necessary permits and pursue an interlocal agreement with the City of Danbury allowing a connection to the city’s waste treatment plant.  This phase of the project would cost approximately $1.6 million, proposed to be funded through American Rescue Plan funds.

I have attached a map indicating the “sewer shed” for the proposed project determined by the feasibility study.  The priority area for the project is the business commercial district extending from Consolidated School through the center of Town, north to the Senior Center, east to Heritage Plaza and south to Cottontail Road.  The system could be expanded to include the schools, police and fire buildings, the senior housing complexes at Dunham Pond and the Birches and the business/commercial area off of Sawmill Road, all currently served by ageing septic systems.  However, unless the Town can obtain funding for the entire sewer project, it is likely that the project will be completed in phases, beginning with the business/commercial district.

The project has been developed using existing zoning restrictions on properties throughout the center of Town.  I want to be very clear that the project allows only for connecting sewer to the existing affordable housing complexes located at Dunham Pond and The Birches; it has not been sized for additional affordable housing or multi-family housing of any type.  This is misinformation being spread by those opposed to additional affordable housing in the center of Town.

As the saying goes, “timing is everything.”  The American Rescue Plan Act specifically allows for funds to be used on sewer and water infrastructure projects, and I will propose using those funds for the feasibility study described above.  Construction of all phases of the project is estimated to cost approximately $18 million.  The Town would seek funding for construction through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and other state and funding opportunities that may be available to us.  As you know, Congress passed the Federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which will provide States and municipalities with funding for projects such as construction of sewer and water infrastructure.  To apply for these funds, we must have a project that is “shovel ready.”  Therefore, using our ARPA funds to move forward with design and permitting is crucial to our ability to secure federal funding for construction of the sewer.

If you have any questions about this project, please check the calendar on the Town website for Special BOS meetings of the ARPA Working Group or call my office at 203-312-5600.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 28.


As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, February 10, 2022, PAGE 2

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The Town of New Fairfield depends on volunteers to actively participate in its Boards and Commissions that make important decisions that affect the lives of our residents.  We currently have openings in the following Boards or Commissions:

Zoning Commission – makes decisions on use of real property, both commercial and residential; will be involved in update to zoning regulations.  Usually meets once a month.

Parks and Recreation – makes decisions on recreation and other activities that bring residents together.  Usually meets once a month.

Permanent Building Committee – The PBC is the sole building committee for the town and acts as the agent of the town for all construction related projects upon approval by a town meeting.  Usually meets twice per month.  RA, PE or construction management experience preferred.

If you are interested in volunteering for either of these Boards, please send an email to summarizing why you are interested in the position and what skills you might bring to the Commission.


By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, February 10, 2022, PAGE 2

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If you have taken a ride by the schools recently, I’m sure that you have seen the progress that has been made on the new schools since my last update.  At their last meeting, the Permanent Building Committee confirmed that the new Consolidated Early Learning Academy will open on schedule at the start of the 2022/2023 school year.  The roof and exterior of the building are nearing completion, and crews have begun work on the framing, drywall and utilities inside the building.  This week, the Board of Education and the PBC will be meeting to approve furniture and technology for CELA.  The project remains on budget.  The High School project is on schedule to open in the Fall of 2023.  The steel superstructure is currently under construction and the project remains within budget.  I have included the latest renderings of the new schools provided by the Architectural firm, JCJ Architecture.

Consolidated Early Learning Academy renderings by Architect, 2022-0111.

High School renderings by Architect, 2022-0111.

How does the Town pay for the school projects?  The Town issues municipal bonds to pay for the balance of the funds authorized by the voters at referendum.  The cost of bonding is reflected in the “debt service” line in the Town budget.  Therefore, as we continue to issue bonds according to the cash flow analysis for the projects, the debt service line will increase.  Once the entire project is bonded, debt service will level off, and as the bonds mature, debt service will decrease. It is important to note that “debt service” is only one of five lines in the municipal budget.  The other components of the budget include municipal and educational operations, medical and capital/non-recurring costs.

The two school projects will require bonding of approximately $83 million issued in four separate phases. Bonding began in the spring of 2020, followed by the second phase of bonding in April of last year. The remaining phases are estimated to occur in March of this year and in the winter of 2023.  At the start of the projects, the Boards of Selectmen, Education and Finance agreed to keep the operational elements of the BOS and BOE budgets as close to flat as possible, and the Boards have successfully met that challenge in the first two years of bonding.

Debt service related to the first bond of $8 million was $586,480 ($400,000 in principal and $183,480 in interest). The effect of the bonding was a 1.16% increase in debt service in the fiscal year 20/21 budget. The remaining components of the budget decreased by a total 0.17%, therefore, the resulting increase in property taxes in 20/21 was 0.99%.  In April of 2021, the Town bonded $25 million at an interest rate of 1.64%, much lower than the 3.25% rate projected at the time of the referendum.  This resulted in a 2.82% increase in debt service ($1,020,000 in principal and $409,996 in interest).  The remaining elements of the budget increased by 0.17%, resulting in a total increase in property taxes of 2.98%.

It is anticipated that the remaining bond issuances will be $35 million this year and approximately $12 million in fiscal year 23/24.  We anticipate that the total effect of the two school projects will be at or below the 9.62% increase in property taxes publicized prior to the referendum.

Many thanks to the Permanent Building Committee for the countless hours they have spent to date managing the Schools project.  We are fortunate to have a Committee comprised of experienced professionals, including a Construction Project Manager and three Professional Engineers.  The members are all town residents who volunteer their time to ensure proper review and execution of the school projects.

A VIEW FROM TOWN HALL (The American Rescue Plan)

By Pat Del Monaco, First Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Pat 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, February 3, 2022, PAGE 2

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I’m sure that many of you have heard about the American Rescue Plan Act, or “ARPA”.  The Act has provided municipalities and school districts in Connecticut with $2.55 billion of funding for specific purposes.  In my column, I will discuss the provisions for municipalities, the work that we have been doing in New Fairfield and next steps.

ARPA funds may be used as follows:

1) to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses and non-profits, or to aid impacted industries such as tourism, travel or hospitality,

2) to respond to essential workers performing essential work during the public health emergency by providing premium pay to essential workers,

3) for the provision of government services, and

to make necessary investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The funds may not be used to fund pension funds, to compensate for lost tax revenue, or to replenish “rainy day” funds.  The intent of ARPA is to look forward and not backward – in other words, funding should be used for new projects, not to reimburse projects already funded through other sources.  Municipalities are urged to identify pre-pandemic inhibitors to growth when considering eligible projects, and to ensure that investments will result in lasting benefits.

New Fairfield will receive approximately $4.1 million in ARPA funds over two years.  When ARPA funding was announced in July of last year, the Board of Selectmen convened a working group comprised of Town employees and officials with expertise consistent with the goals of ARPA.  This group includes the Town Engineer (infrastructure), the Health Director (public health response), Economic Development Commission Chair (negative economic impacts and aid to small business) Social Services Director (aid to households), and the Emergency Management Director, Police Sergeant, and Fire Chief (public safety) to advise us on town needs in their respective areas consistent with the provisions of ARPA.  The working group reports to the BOS periodically on potential projects that may be funded with ARPA funds.  The meetings are Special Board of Selectmen meetings that are noticed and open to the public.  Meeting dates are posted on the town website,  To date, the working group has presented information to the BOS on the following projects:

Business/Commercial Sewer Study and Design

Through discussions with commercial realtors and property owners and the efforts of the Economic Development Commission, the lack of sewer and water infrastructure in the center of Town has been identified as a primary obstacle to filling vacancies in our business/commercial district.  Many years ago, the Town declined the opportunity to connect to the Regional Waste Treatment Facility located in Danbury, and the Town Engineer has proposed seeking that connection now to support the future economic and environmental health of our Town.  Reliance on septic systems severely restricts both the types of businesses that can operate in Town and the potential growth of our existing small businesses.  The project could be expanded to include New Fairfield schools, also served by aging septic systems.  Further, most septic systems in the center of Town are close to 30 years old, and located above the largest drinking water aquifer in New Fairfield, presenting a potential environmental concern should the systems fail.  A sewer study identifying potential sewer flow to Danbury has been completed using budgeted funds. ARPA funds could be used to fund the design and permitting of the system necessary to make the project “shovel ready,” removing this item from our Town budget.  Such status is required before the Town can apply for state or federal funding to complete the project.  ARPA expressly allows for investment in sewer and water.

Ball Pond Watershed Stormwater Drainage

Over several decades, stormwater drainage has caused severe erosion and flooding in the neighborhoods located between Ball Pond and Putnam Lake, impacting numerous homeowners in the area.  The Town Engineer is proposing the study and design of stormwater mitigation measures to control the flow of stormwater in the area.  ARPA expressly allows for investment in sewer and water, including stormwater management.

Public Safety Improvements

The Emergency Management Director, Police Sergeant and Fire Chief have made recommendations on improvements to the Police building, Company A firehouse and Communications infrastructure.  ARPA expressly allows provisions for funding police, fire and other public safety services.

Premium Pay for Public Health and Safety Employees

The working group has discussed premium pay for public health and safety employees and volunteer firefighters.  ARPA expressly allows premium pay to eligible workers performing essential work during the pandemic.

Emergency Housing Fund

After reviewing the services currently available to New Fairfield residents and additional needs in the community, the Social Services Director has recommended the creation of an Emergency Housing Fund.  The fund would be used to assist residents who may be on the verge of homelessness.  ARPA expressly provides for emergency housing assistance.

Beach House Reconstruction

The Town, through the Parks and Recreation Commission and Permanent Building Committee, has long recognized the need to reconstruct the Beach House at the Town Park.  To date, the Town has been unable to fund the project through the municipal budget or state grant funding.  Preliminary plans for the project exist.  ARPA provides for funding government services, including infrastructure.

A SELECTMAN’S VIEW (The Budget Process)

By Khris Hall, Selectman, Town of New Fairfield22 Khris 3 by 4 about

As published in the Town Tribune, Section 1, January 27, 2022, PAGE 3

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The yearly budget process is underway for both the Board of Selectmen, whose municipal budget comprises roughly 20 percent of the full budget and for the Board of Education, making up the remaining 80 percent.  The Selectmen and the Board of Education will separately submit their proposed budgets for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022-23 to the Board of Finance shortly so that it can begin its detailed review with submission of the final budget proposal to voters in May.

Every budget year is difficult, but this year is especially tough, with the confluence of two factors:  (1) the coming fiscal year is going to see the biggest increase in bonding costs for the lifecycle of the two school construction projects and (2) the town and schools are both experiencing the same inflation challenges in the cost of supplies, vehicles and equipment, and programs that we are all seeing in our everyday lives.  The bonding cost by itself could add approximately 4 percent to the overall budget.

The Selectmen have met seven times in open sessions since January 11th to review budget requests from town departments (police, fire department, public works, library, senior center, etc.) and programs (CLA, HART, hazardous waste disposal, etc.).  We welcomed the attendance of several members of the Board of Finance, including three new members, at these workshops so they could hear firsthand what goes into the municipal budget and why.

Knowing that the upcoming year is going to be difficult, the town’s Finance Department asked each department and program to keep proposed budget increases as close to zero as possible.  While many departments were able to do so, some could not.  Funds for road paving, for example, that were cut from the budget the past two cycles were included; a planned replacement for a plow truck that is now 14 years old and in danger of rusting out was requested; cars for the police department to replace the 2008 Dodge Chargers that are getting more costly and difficult to keep in running order will be difficult to defer; new equipment to keep the volunteer firefighters safe must be considered; repairs to bridges and drainage must be scheduled in order not to fall behind on town infrastructure; cost of living adjustments negotiated with employee unions must be paid.

Some expenses that might have appeared in this year’s proposed municipal budget have been redirected for possible funding under the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  In total, we have $4.1 million to use for projects that qualify under federal and state guidelines.  The funding can be used for projects that address economic development and preservation of the health and safety of residents.  By law, the funding cannot be used to lower tax rates, except indirectly by funding projects that may have been part of a capital project.  We have specifically moved a few such projects out of the proposed municipal budget for consideration under ARPA, helping us keep the proposed municipal budget lower. The Board of Selectmen have been considering project proposals in ARPA workshops and will continue that process through the spring.

The Selectmen will use the input from the budget workshops to weigh and balance the requests and make the painful decisions required to arrive at a proposed municipal budget to submit to the Board of Finance.  Our goal is to get below a 1 percent increase for the impact of the municipal budget on the total budget.

The Board of Finance will begin its detailed review of the separate budget proposals from the Boards of Selectmen and Education with a public workshop on Saturday morning, March 5.  Cuts will likely be suggested.  Additionally, the Board of Finance will examine other budget levers it can use to balance out proposed spending increases.  They will determine the estimated revenue available from increases to the value of properties on the Grand List, from town permitting and other activity, from tuition from Sherman students, from state grants to the town and schools, and other sources.  They will review what savings may be possible in the funding of health insurance for town employees.  There will be back and forth among the three Boards to arrive at the balance of expenditures and revenues that will produce the proposed property tax increase that will go to the voters, most likely in May.  The Board of Finance will factor in consideration of what they think the voters will approve at the May referendum in its final recommendation.  Given the unavoidable increase in bonding costs, the proposed increase will likely be higher than the average increases that have been the case over the past decade.

The process is just beginning.  I encourage readers to take advantage of the multiple open forums over the next three months to understand what your municipal tax dollars will be used for and make your views known.

FROM 2021

This is an important year for all of us, with the budget referendum happening June 5th, 2021 (as described below), an upcoming vote later in June 2021 on a proposed noise ordinance, and a local election for town officials (including the Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Education) later this year.  We will provide you information on these and other events, as well as information on Board and Commission vacancies.

Noise Ordinance Vote

We urge you to vote this coming Sunday, August 29th, at 2:00 PM at the New Fairfield Senior Center to approve a long-awaited Town Noise Ordinance.  The Board of Selectmen has worked long and hard to craft an ordinance that will respond to the hundreds of complaints they have received, both from residents on the lake and those not on the lake.  They sought input from residents, technical specialists, DEEP and compared to other towns nearby.

This ordinance will help protect you from loud, persistent noise while not impacting your day-to-day activities.  Let’s support the Noise Ordinance and get this done.

We anticipate loud opposition.  We not only encourage you to voice your support before the meeting, attend the meeting to vote yes, and encourage others to do the same.  This is an important issue in our town.

VOTE YES for the Noise Ordinance on Sunday, August 29th.

For more information on the noise ordinance see the Noise Ordinance Fact Sheet.

Budget Referendum 21-22

We urge you to vote this coming Saturday (June 5 – 10am to 8pm at Meetinghouse Hill School – or by absentee ballot)) to approve this year’s proposed budget for town and school expenditures.  The Boards of Selectmen, Education, and Finance worked hard to keep the property tax increase to 2.98 percent — as low as possible, given the economic hardships of the past year.

  • Of the 2.98 percent increase, 2.81 percent is the amount the debt repayment for construction of the two new schools, leaving an increase of only 0.17 percent for important school and town programs.
  • It is important to note the funding for school construction will NOT be affected if either budget is defeated. Rather, if either the proposed town or school budgets is not passed, program cuts will have to be made to school staffing and town capital — such as the gym and music teacher positions that were fought for by parents and capital funding for the fire department, the only town capital item that was not cut in this year’s budget process.

More information on the budget see the Budget Fact Sheet.

Stay tuned for more information on other New Fairfield events.

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Paid for by New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee – John McCartney, Treasurer