June 24, 2019

Essex Town Meeting Approves Appropriations and Appointments

ESSEX— Voters at a town meeting Monday unanimously approved six appropriations and more than two dozen reappointments to towns and board and commissions.

About 15 residents turned out for the town meeting, called the annual town meeting because the agenda also includes approval of the annual town report. The town report for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is dedicated to Josephine Bombaci, a longtime resident and member of the Essex Democratic Town Committee who died in September.

Four of the appropriations, including $33,796 for the town clerk’s office, $32,815 for the grants and special appropriations account, $16,408 for a wastewater management study for the Ivoryton village area, and $3,450 for parks and recreation, were already covered or offset by grants, fees, or revenue and required no new appropriations of town funds. Most of the discussion focused on two additional appropriations that were not offset by grants, revenue or fees, $41,646 for legal services and $68,462 for police services.

Board of Finance Chairman Jim Francis said the overrun for legal services, which required an appropriation of additional funds, was partly caused by court appeals of new property assessments established under the last revaluation, and negotiations on a new contract for the union representing town highway workers.

The $68,462 additional appropriation for police services was partly offset by a drunk driving enforcement grant of about $50,000. The grant, which requires a 25 percent match of town funds, is used to pay police overtime for enhanced drunk driving enforcement, including police check points, at certain times of the year.

But about $18,000 of the budget overrun resulted from additional overtime for town police officers. First Selectman Phil Miller noted that two of the town’s four full-time officers have been out at various times over the past year, one for a medical leave and another for an approved leave of absence while the officer attends the Connecticut Police Academy to train for a possible job as a state trooper.

All of the reappointments to boards and commissions were approved on unanimous voice votes without discussion. Reappointments for three-year terms ending in December 2013 include  Douglas Demarest and Jeffrey Lovelace for the conservation commission, Charles Corson, Dan Lapman and alternate Stephen Knauth for the inland wetlands commission, Jeffrey Going, Joseph Zaraschi and alternate Earl Fowler for the harbor management commission, Michael Holmes, James Rawn, Jack Spangler and alternate Edward Burleson for the park and recreation commission, Stuart Ingersoll and Alix Walmsley for the zoning board of appeals, Hope Proctor and alternate Jim Hill for the zoning commission, and Adrienne Brochu and Mark Pratt for the tree committee.

Reappointed for two year terms ending in December 2012 were John Beveridge, William Foster, Alan Kerr, and David Winstead for the economic development commission, and Alvin Wolfgram for the sanitary waste commission and the water pollution control authority. Reappointed for five-year terms on the planning commission ending in December 2015 were Carla Feroni and commission alternates Robert Laundy, Neil Nichols, and Claire Tiernan.

Appointments to the retirement committee, which supervises the pension funds for town employees, were made by First Selectman Phil Miller, and did not require confirmation by voters at a town meeting. Reappointed for five year terms on the retirement committee were Carl Ellison, Jim Francis, Paul Fazzino, and Ellen Wexler, with Selectman Norman Needleman appointed to a spot on the committee that had been held by Linda Savitsky, who had been serving as chairwoman of the committee in recent years.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.

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