At town meeting, budgets but also other money topics on agenda
CORNWALL — The annual town budget meeting, scheduled for May 20, promises to be about much more than the budget. There are four additional spending proposals that could ultimately add to costs for the town in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.A vote on the combined town and school budgets is at the top of the agenda. That number will be somewhere around $4.1 million. Still up for debate is whether or not Town Hall employees will get raises and, if so, how much. The issue has been debated in meetings and around town for weeks. The Board of Finance heard more on the topic at the April 29 budget public hearing. The finance board members planned to consider that additional input at the board’s regular meeting May 19 (after The Lakeville Journal went to press), where they would approve a final budget proposal to send to town meeting.At the meeting, voters can change the proposed bottom line — but from that point on it can only be decreased, not increased. Also on the agenda is a request for approval from voters to transfer an insurance payment of $48,564.80. The money is being paid to the town for a 50-year-old steel equipment shed that was destroyed over the winter when heavy snow and ice caused the roof trusses to twist. The insurance money has arrived, and now the board has recommended it be moved to the capital line account so it can be used to pay for a new shed at the town garage. The plan is to build a similar 40-by-70-foot building with some improvements over the old one. The estimated cost is $60,000.A new Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant has been approved for Cornwall by the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Voters will be asked to approve a $150,000 appropriation from the municipal reserve fund. Expended funds will be reimbursed from the grant. As a similar grant was used recently, most of the funding will go toward facade improvements to businesses. Efforts at slowing traffic through town centers are slated for the remainder. A final appropriation would be $275,000 from municipal reserves for the reimbursable portion of phase two of the Great Hollow and Great Hill roads improvement project. The town will be reimbursed for 80 percent of the project.This is a change to what was originally posted as the meeting agenda. First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said this week the matter will likely be tabled until town officials are sure they have the proper numbers from the state. This is an extension of the same project, which includes repaving and guardrails, that began in 2009 with a $150,000 appropriation. Funding is through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus funding. The town was offered additional funds that were unused elsewhere. The second project is officially the Great Hill Road Pavement Preservation Project. The roads qualified because they are feeder roads, in this case, leading from Cornwall to Milton, a section of Litchfield that was once the county seat.Last on the agenda: The Board of Selectmen and town treasurer will offer a report on the Gates Bequest. More than $251,000 was left by Judy Gates, who died in 2009, to be used for the benefit of the town, at its discretion. Her husband, Larry, died in 1996.She was an English teacher at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. He was an actor, best known for his Emmy-winning role on “The Guiding Light.” Their dedication to the town included founding the Park and Recreation Commission. As was discussed a year ago at the town budget meeting, the principal will be invested, and the earnings, last estimated at about $10,000 per year, will be spent annually. Suggestions entertained at that meeting centered on scholarship programs. There was also talk of building a Babe Ruth League ballfield and buying radar signs to slow traffic through town centers.The town meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Cornwall Consolidated School Gathering Room.