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.
Bob Tait, Newtown’s Financial Director, pointed out three major items in the financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.
- 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.
- There was a positive $3.9 million change in pension fund trust assets.
- 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.