November 30, 2021

Essex Selectmen Approve Additional Emergency Management Improvements, Tax Waiver for Essex Court Elderly Housing

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has approved a $50,000 appropriation for a third round of emergency management improvements, along with a separate four year waiver of the payments in lieu of taxes for the Essex Court elderly housing complex.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the proposed expenditure for emergency management improvements was reduced by the removal of two items that were under discussion, an electric generator for the solid waste compactor site and video cameras for the entrance to town hall. Needleman said he concluded that $35,000 was too much to spend for a generator that would power the compactor during any extended power outage. Dropping the video cameras brought an additional reduction of about $8,000.

The proposed $50,000 expenditure would pay for additional signs, radio communications equipment and improvements, and new appliances for the kitchen on the lower level of town hall. This would the third expenditure for emergency management improvements since Tropical Storm Irene last August. Last fall, voters at town meetings approved $38,000 to relocate the emergency operations center to the former judge of probate office at town hall, and $32,528 for various emergency management items.

The board also approved a four-year waiver of payments in lieu of taxes for the Essex Court elderly housing complex in the Centerbrook section. The four year waiver had been requested by the appointed Essex Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, which governs the complex.

The town has waived the PILOT payments each year since 2005 after controversies and conflicts between project managers and residents from 2001 to 2004 led to legal expenses and settlements that depleted the Essex Housing Authority’s reserve funds. A four year waiver would be the longest waiver of the payments to be approved thus far. Needleman said the waiver would result in a loss of about $9,000 in potential tax revenue per year, or about $36,000 over the four years.

Both the appropriation for emergency management improvements, and the waiver of the PILOT payments, require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. Needleman said a town meeting vote on the two issues is expected in April.