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‘Hot box’ a hot topic for finance board

FALLS VILLAGE — The Board of Finance approved two requests from First Selectman Pat Mechare to move appropriations recommendations to town meeting.The approval was given at the regular monthly finance meeting Monday, Nov. 14. It was the first meeting for new member Brenda L. Nielson, who replaces George Elling.The appropriations are: up to $10,900 for a 2-ton slip-in asphalt hot patcher for the town crew; and up to $28,300 for a statistical revaluation (from the assessor’s office).Tim Downs, the town crew chief, said the new piece of equipment, known colloquially as a “hot box,” allows the town crew to keep asphalt warm and therefore usable for longer periods of time.“Currently when we patch potholes we get one or one and a half tons of [patching material] in a dump truck and shovel it out,” explained Downs. By the end of the process the asphalt cools off and is difficult to work with, and there is some waste.In addition, the plant in Sheffield, Mass., where the town has purchased patching material for years no longer offers it, so the material has to be obtained in Torrington — with additional transporation costs and the problem of the asphalt cooling in transit.The hot box truck has a heater, so the crew can use all the material in a more efficient manner. And at $80 per ton, that’s a good thing.Downs said he was familiar with this particular truck, a demonstration model the town used for a couple of weeks at one point.“I told them when they were done demo-ing to call me,” Downs said.The price is about $5,000 less than a brand new model, he added.The request from the assessor’s office, to perform a statistical revaluation of the properties in town, was to accept a bid from Vision Government Solutions of Northboro, Mass., for $28,300. The Vision bid was the higher of two received. The other bid was for $22,900 from Tyler Technology of Tolland, Conn. JoAnn Dodge from the assessor’s office explained that the Vision bid included five years of Internet access to the results for town residents. Tyler could have done that, but it would have required additional out-of-pocket expenses such as buying and setting up a separate computer for the job.Dodge also explained that a statistical revaluation is performed from the previous year’s real estate sales records, and usually does not involve a physical visit to individual properties (as is the case in a full 10-year revaluation).Finance board Co-chairman John Allyn said he had met with auditor Mike Zemaitis, who was concerned that the Lee H. Kellogg School had made an insurance payment for the current year out of last year’s budget. Board member Lou Timolat said that substantial payments for things such as insurance must be made in the appropriate fiscal year; otherwise the public is misinformed about the true costs of the school. “Technically it’s a misappropriation,” Timolat said.The board agreed to get a memo from Zemaitis, pointing out the problem, for the Board of Education.

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