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Board of Selectmen Hear Positive Highlights From the Prior Year's Financial Reports

"No simple solution" to the local tick problem

Highlights from this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting included a financial report for the prior fiscal year, a discussion of the next steps for the Tick Borne Disease Action Committee and proposed policy and procedure for impounded animal euthanasia.

Financial Report

Bob Tait, Newtown’s Financial Director, pointed out three major items in the financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. 

  1. The Fund Balance decreased by $494,000 at the end of the year. This was favorable because a $1 million decrease was budgeted. This led to an unassigned fund balance of $7.4 million. This is equal to 7.1% of the budget which is within the town’s fund balance policy.
  2. There was a positive $3.9 million change in pension fund trust assets.
  3. In the new medical self-insurance plan, only claims expenses had been budgeted. The experience rate for the insurance plan was favorable, and the resulting balance ended with $1.7 million. Tait said, “This was a pleasant surprise.”  He further explained that this is a huge start towards a $2 million balance that the town would like to maintain.  

In an effort to reduce expenses, bids have gone out to insurance vendors for the claims processing and other administrative duties of the medical self-insurance plan, Tait reported.

These bids are due back by January 6. The current administrative expenses for the self-insurance plan are about $780,000. This is an opportunity to reduce that expense, similar to the savings unions have experienced, Tait explained.

A copy of the financial report can be found on the town website on the finance page or by clicking Newtown CAFR 2011.

Tick Borne Disease Action Committee

There was much discussion around the next steps for the Tick Borne Disease Action Committee, which published its .

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has offered to help Newtown develop a comprehensive deer management plan. The DEEP is working with Redding to develop a template that can be used with other cities and towns in the state. Additionally, the town of New Canaan has asked for help.

The DEEP gave Newtown three options: defer action until the New Canaan plan is completed, work with the DEEP at the same time they are working with New Canaan or wait and allow the DEEP to look at a regional plan for the area, including Bethel and Monroe.

First Selectman Pat Llodra explained that this plan would gather information about the tick problem. The DEEP will not be telling Newtown what to do about the deer population. The committee was asked to recommend which option should be pursued.

“This is a major problem that has no simple solution," said Michele McLeod, chair of the Tick Borne Disease Action Committee. "There are multiple complicated issues, and one solution will not solve them all."

McLeod went on to cite evidence that contradicted the common opinion that there is a direct correlation between deer and ticks. On the other hand, Dave Shugarts, who has worked with the committee, cited evidence that there is a direct link.

The BOS would like a strong town-wide educational program, as recommended in the committee’s final report. The board asked the committee to provide specific steps to initiate such an educational program. 

Impounded Animal Euthanasia

Policy and procedure for Impounded Animal Euthanasia was discussed and will be voted on at a future date. The policy states: 

It is the belief of the Newtown community, supported by town government and the animal control program of the Town of Newtown, that euthanizing any animal impounded in the Newtown Animal Control Center should be avoided unless circumstances dictate euthanasia is the only reasonable case to pursue. Euthanasia will not be considered as a control for over-population at the Newtown Animal Control Facility. 

Both Will Rogers and Llodra pointed out this policy provides limits to euthanasia because there is currently no policy in effect. A complete copy of the proposal is attached.

Appointments and re-appointments to Boards and Commissions were also made at the meeting. See attached list.

Swami December 21, 2011 at 12:55 AM
What a great day for news, positive fiscals for our wonderful town of Newtown, stock markets up about 3%, the Iraq war officially over, Ron Paul surging in Iowa, Newt and Willard banging heads, and Sarah Palin contemplating making a run for 2012. Life is Good.
Adria L. Henderson December 21, 2011 at 04:51 PM
It should be noted that the animal control facility Euthanasia Policy and Procedure document attached to this article is just a draft of a proposed policy. Final decisions have not been made or enacted on this issue.
Hoa Nguyen December 21, 2011 at 05:20 PM
A reader had problems posting to the site. So I'm posting this on the reader's behalf: The Nantucket Board of Selectmen sent some of the Tick Borne disease Committee to Shelter Island to study the use and effects of four posters on the tick popluation. There was a Cornell team there that was working on this question. We learned that the  effective use of four posters is extremely expensive. The corn fattens deer and keeps them looking healthier through the lean winter months.  The positive, constructive  result, per the medical community, was that the presence of signage and the four posters themselves made people more aware of ticks and LD; thus, patients were seen earlier for tick bites, were more aware of looking for the symptoms and signs of LD, and so, with  early care, treatment was much more effective.                             Tristram Dammin MD                          Nantucket, Ma

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