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BOF to decide on funds requested by Sharon Housing

SHARON — Seeking to resolve an issue of funding involving the Sharon Housing Authority (SHA), the Board of Selectmen discussed the details with SHA representatives and the Board of Finance at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

The longstanding issue is based in circumstances surrounding a “bridge loan” secured between SHA and Salisbury Bank and Trust Company to assist with installation of a new HVAC system at Sharon Ridge, an affordable housing  community. 

The loan was in the amount of $105,000. The whole project was to cost $204,500, but it was to have been supported half-way by an incentive grant from power company Eversource, with the remainder offered as a no-interest loan from Eversource that allowed a four-year repayment schedule.

Eversource did not follow through, however. 

At a July 2020 town meeting, voters agreed that the town could hold $100,000 in reserve to assist with any liability that might arise in the resolution of the Eversource loan, for which the town acted as a grantor; this was an arrangement agreed to at a 2019 town meeting.

Representing the Sharon Housing Authority at the meeting were Treasurer Patricia Whelan and Assistant Treasurer William Manasse. 

Both assured the selectmen that the Housing Authority expects to pay its bills, including the loan in question, but that they would like to benefit from access to the reserve just in the event that rent payments from tenants come in lower than expected.

The Sharon Housing Authority is asking therefore that the funds in reserve be shifted from an intended use for a loan from Eversource to a similarly purposed loan from Salisbury Bank.

Following discussion among the selectmen, the finance board and the SHA, the selectmen unanimously agreed to recommend the issue to the Board of Finance for their consideration and referral to a town meeting.

Other short subjects

With a state-mandated Affordable Housing Plan due in October 2022, the selectmen agreed to accept the $10,100 grant provided by the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG), which is an organization made up of the first selectmen from 21 area towns. 

The funds provide for a NHCOG consultant, who will assist and advise a volunteer committee on preparation of the plan. Selectman Dale Jones volunteered to represent the selectmen on that steering committee.

The Advisory Committee for allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds is moving ahead with the planned hiring of a temporary administrator. The interview process will begin soon. The approved expense budget for the first year of the committee’s work is limited to a maximum of $11,236, just under 2% of the total funds expected.

The selectmen also announced the appointment of resident Donna DiMartino as Social Services Agent on an interim basis, following the resignation of Mary O’Reilly, who has accepted a teaching position at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

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