Welcome. President Dave Bechtel opened the meeting at 7:05 and asked everyone at the meeting to introduce themselves.
Announcements and Committee Updates:
- Dave noted that the WCA Board has reviewed the draft Hamden Plan of Conservation and Development and prepared comments. He provided an overview of our response. The WCA’s comments have been circulated to the Ridge Hill and Spring Glen Civic Associations with the thought of consolidating all three CA’s comments in one letter. However, we will file our own comments separately to ensure they are received in time.
- Library Committee:
- Connie Matheson announced that the Whitneyville Branch Library event in November featuring author Bruce Coffin was a success. The event was standing room only.
- Connie also noted that children’s author and illustrator Deborah Freedman will be reading at the library on February 9th at 10:30 AM.
- The 3rd Annual Library Fundraiser will be held on May 3rd. Previous events have raised about $2,000 in each year.
- Library Committee member Kari Nordstrom made a plan for improvements to the branch that has begun to be implemented. The Town Librarian is working with the committee to implement the plan.
- Treasurer’s Report:
- $1285.25 in the WCA bank account
- $347.82 in the Garden Club account
- Officer Elections
- There will be elections for the offices of President and Treasurer at the May WCA meeting.
- Term limits require a new President, while the Treasurer can be filled by the incumbent. Deb Maldonado is willing to continue if no one else is interested.
Upcoming Legislative Session. Dave introduced State Rep. Mike D’Agostino who provided an over view of the forthcoming legislative session. He noted that many of the new Democratic members are from Fairfield County, which should add an interesting dynamic to the process.
Lamont is working on his budget proposal.
The overall budget will be in the range of $20 billion with a current
deficit of $1.4 billion. Unless revenue
can be raised – such as enacting highway tolls – cuts in service will have to occur.
- He noted that state employees may be asked for more givebacks, but that further cuts to pay and benefits will be detrimental to the retention of quality staff.
- Town aid is another area that could experience cuts. Those in turn could have an effect on Hamden’s mil rate, which is already one of the highest in the state.
- Health and social programs such as HUSKY may have cuts.
- Mike urged the WCA membership to contact other legislators representing Hamden to ensure their help in mitigating the economic impact on our town.
- Mike is working on legislation that would change the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula to account for each town’s actual ECS needs. He noted that while Hamden is a relatively affluent town, our student population isn’t.
- Mike has dialogue with the Town regarding Hamden’s needs in the upcoming session. He’s prepared a bill to allow municipalities to assess a public safety fee on college students. Another bill would relieve towns of the need to provide transportation services for private school students. A third would permit municipalities to have different mil rates for residential and non-residential properties.
discussed some large bonding projects for which Hamden is working to secure
- New firehouse(s) and a training facility.
- Alice Peck and West Woods school renovations.
- The Town is also looking to secure funding that would provide a universal Pre-K program.
- There was a discussion of the lack of an adequate juvenile justice facility in Connecticut. Mike mentioned that, while he has put in a bill to transfer the High Meadows property on Hartford Turnpike, DCF is considering it as a site for a new facility. Connie Matheson noted that there is currently a need for a 60 bed locked facility. Mike offered to arrange a tour of High Meadows.
The meeting was opened for questions:
- There was a discussion of plans to stop net metering (for electricity).
- There was a suggestion that traffic calming strategies need to be implemented on Augur Street.
- Construction status of the Waite Street bridge is unknown. See the May 2018 meeting notes for a discussion with the Town Engineer on initial plans.
- There was a discussion of the potential for traffic calming and parking on Whitney Avenue, a state route. Mike is having a meeting with the new Transportation Commissioner and will raise the issue.
- A new adult marijuana bill will come before Mike’s committee. It looks like this one won’t be smoked like last year’s.
- Mike also noted that there is thought being given to a state-wide, rather than municipal, property tax by the General Assembly.
Mike will send copies of all his bills to the WCA.
Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 8:55.