The Board of Selectmen (BOS) held their monthly meeting on Monday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Brookfield High School. The meeting had several agenda items, however much of the time was taken up discussing water issues.
Martin Handshy, who the Selectmen hired as a consultant on the water project, gave a presentation to the board explaining the assessment formula and some change order recommendations from the Water Advisory Committee (WAC).
"There will be a variety of water districts in the town of Brookfield which will be based on the [individual] project," Handshy said, "and the assessment will be based on the costs of the projects." There are four lines to be put in, commonly referred to as the Northern Line (the northern half Federal Road), Barnbeck (from Orchard Street to Barnbeck Apartments at the intersection of Federal Road and 133), Silvermine (which runs the length of Silvermine Road and up Pocono) and the Southern Line (south from Route 133 to Danbury), which is still in the drafting stages.
Funding for the projects is a mixture of state grants and bonds that will be floated by the town and paid down by those residents who use the line. How much those residents pay will be determined by an assessment formula. "We looked at a variety of different ways to render the assessment," Handshy explained, ultimately choosing "a derivative of the Danbury formula."
The Danbury formula takes into account gross acreage, road frontage, building units and the tax assessor's valuation of the property, each weighted equally at 25 percent. Handshy and WAC have also recommended that the formula include an environmental assessment "levied on the properties that have contributed to water or soil contamination," he said, though legal aid is still determining whether that can be taken into consideration.
The resulting valuation will be applied to the cost of each line individually.
Water is now flowing through the Barnbeck line; it has been flushed, tested and come back clean. Laying the pipe down Silvermine and the Pocono extension "is a pretty complex process," according to Handshy, though testing will begin this week on the line crossing over Route 7 and construction is about to commence at the railroad crossing, which should take less than two weeks to complete. "Then the final leg is to get to the condominiums and flush and test them," Handshy said, "The push is really on to get all this done this month."
The advisory committee also recommended that $29,000 be appropriated from the contingency line for the Barnbeck project to install two upgraded water pumps to accommodate the planned Southern Line. (The funding will be reallocated at a future date, when the Southern Line has its own budget.) "When the Southern Line comes on, the pumping requirement becomes much higher out of the well on a per-day basis," Handshy said, assuring that the town's water supply could handle it, "but we'll need stronger pumps." The WAC recommended installing pumps with 7.5-horsepower rather than the 2-horsepower pumps initially called for the in plans. "If you put the 2-horsepower pumps on today, then a year later pull those and install the 7.5-horsepower, you install them twice," Handshy framed it, this method is "more efficient and costs less in the long run."
Selectman Howard Lasser questioned moving ahead with the transfer without a full accounting of the project's budget. First Selectman Bill Davidson mentioned that Handshy is also a certified public accountant (CPA) and has been tasked with sifting backward through the financials to determine the true cost to-date. Handshy assured that there was sufficient funding available and will attempt to have the financials sorted by the next monthly meeting of the selectmen.
The recommendation was approved unanimously.
- Davidson reminded residents of the Town Meeting on Tuesday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Brookfield High School auditorium.
- The town has to reevaluate its properties by 2012, but the process will begin later this month. "There's time," Davidson said, "but the beginning of it is upon us." A public meeting has been scheduled for , at 7 p.m. in room 133 of Town Hall.
- The town's bond rating was recently reaffirmed at Aa2. Moody's rating agency has also indicated that the town may soon be promoted to Aa1, one step below a perfect rating of Aaa. "That's really good news for us," Davidson said, "because we're going to be floating a lot of bonds in the near future, some of those for recouping our money for the water system and some of those for long-term bonding for the high school."
- Russell Cornelius was on hand to help Davidson introduce a proclamation naming May "BLAST Tick-Borne Illness Out of Brookfield" Month.
- The BOS considered the utility of having an Architectural Advisory Committee, as the final decisions fall to the Zoning Commission. After some discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the committee's establishment through February 2011 with the caveat that its membership and duties would be discussed further.
- Year-to-date, Brookfield's revenues are $97,000 more than anticipated in the 2009-2010 budget and expenses are $165,000 under budget, placing the town "more than $250,000 to the good," as Davidson put it. "And we've paid for our salt and sand," he added, referring to budget transfers to be discussed at the Special Town Meeting on Thursday, May 6.
Speaking as the manager of BV Water, the corporation that owns sections II and IV of the Northern Line, Handshy proposed that the town purchase the two sections to combine with sections I and III, which the town purchased years ago. Handshy suggested that town ownership of the lines would encourage more businesses to tie-in, helping spread the burden of paying down installation costs.
Davidson reiterated that the town would merely be fronting the money for the purchase and that the users would pay down the bond.
A Public Hearing was set for Monday, June 7, at 7 p.m. in the media room of the high school to receive comment on a proposal from the town's Director of Health, Dr. Raymond Sullivan, to raise the Health Department fees. The increases range from $25 for land-use application reviews to $150 for new commercial construction.
The hearing will take place before the BOS's monthly meeting.
- The board approved attorney Peter Olsen as the special town attorney for land-use matters. They also filled four committee vacancies: Shirley Gervasoni (D) to the Housing Authority; John Voris (R) moved from alternate to regular member of the Police Commission; Joyanne Devorsetz (R) to the Retirement Benefits Advisory Committee; and William Lohan (R) to the Candlewood Lake Authority.