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Board of Finance Shown the Silver Lining

With cost cuts and tax collections better than expected, some capital projects will come off the back burner.

The preliminary review of the financial results for the year ending on June 30, 2009, showed glimmers of hope for the town in the midst of a turbulent national economy.

In an e-mail sent to the Board of Finance in advance of their special make-up meeting Tuesday, the town’s Chief Financial Officer, Gary Conrad, said tax revenues were $1,997,792 better than expected, with the collection rate up more than one percent over last year to 99.37 percent.

“People are aggressively paying their taxes,” Conrad said at the meeting. “We hope that continues.”

Conrad’s memo also laid out how the town dug itself out of a $1.5 million budget hole by saving more than $2.7 million through cost cutting and the refunding and delay of debt issues. The CFO says that the town will now be able to bring some deferred projects back to the front burner. Toward that end, the Board of Finance approved the carryover of unexpended capital project funds from the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The board also approved funding for two other projects Tuesday: the improvement and maintenance of several New Canaan roads, and a project to upgrade energy efficiency at four public schools.  

They appropriated $5 million for improvements to the town’s roads, and authorized the issuance of bonds in the same amount to meet the appropriation.

The allocation is a continuation of the Pavement Management Program, implemented in 2004, and includes an anticipated $950,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to maintain 70 roads in town.

According to First Selectman and Board of Finance Chairman Jeb Walker, stimulus funds that would cover the costs of road maintenance were supposed to be made available in April of this year but are now not expected until the spring of 2010.

Nonetheless, work will begin as early as mid-September of this year and will last through November.

The board approved the issuance of $1.8 million in bonds to upgrade energy efficiency at the town’s three elementary schools and Saxe Middle School.

Hans Otto, Manager of Facilities Operation for New Canaan Public Schools, told the board that the project would be eligible for an estimated 25 percent federal rebate through Connecticut Light & Power, the Clean Air Act and other sources. The energy efficiency upgrades will include building automation projects, repair and replacement of boiler burners, and retrofitting of outdoor lighting.

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