Perhaps you’ve seen the trench between the Town Hall parking lot and the Community Center. It is the beginning stages of a walkway to connect the two buildings on the Town Hall campus. Before any further work is done, electrical wiring connecting the two will be buried, then gravel will fill the trench until spring when pavers will be installed. The purpose of the wiring is to allow the generator purchased with STEAP grant funds to power both facilities in case of an emergency situation, and allow the Community Center to be used as a sleep center as well as an emergency kitchen.
At our last Selectmen’s meeting, it was agreed that Public Works would stripe the center of the new roadways on East and West Old Route 6 in the interest of public safety. This work should be completed before the snow flies.
Hampton is fortunate to receive a $22,750 grant through the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program, administered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, for expanding the Edwards Preserve through the purchase of seven acres of land adjacent to the State forest on Old Town Pound Road. The original Preserve was purchased with a grant from this same program in 2013. The new parcel has more than 1,000 feet of road frontage and is adjacent on three sides to the existing Edwards Preserve. Acceptance of this grant would be contingent upon approval of the purchase at a yet-to-be-scheduled town meeting.
I would urge you to make your wishes known, as citizens and taxpayers of Hampton, by responding to the exit survey available at Town Hall on Election Day, November 3rd. This exit survey will be conducted in all three towns to help determine the future direction of education. Please remember to select only one of the three options: full regionalization, district dissolution, or the status quo; failure to do so will invalidate your voice in this survey.
Now is the time to prepare for colder weather – remember, in case of emergency, the Community Room at Town Hall will be available as a warming center.
As the Gazette reported last month, residents of the three towns of Chaplin, Hampton and Scotland will have a chance to weigh in on the direction desired for the education of their students, only it will be in the form of an advisory poll rather than a referendum vote. The three First Selectmen decided to have this poll on Election Day while voters are already out casting a ballot in the municipal election. Voters will be given an opportunity to choose one of three options: to maintain the status quo, to fully regionalize Pre-K through grade 12, or to dissolve the district. I would stress again that this is an advisory question only, not a binding decision. By statute, any change will have to go through a formal study process and formal vote in order to be implemented; this will simply advise as to what direction the respective towns want to take concerning the options determined by the Milone & MacBroom educational study and feedback during the public hearings. Upon the guidance of the Secretary of State’s Office, this poll cannot be offered as an advisory question on the November ballot and cannot be done in the same room as the election. Details will be forthcoming next month on the exact process in Hampton upon the advisement of the Registrars of Voters.
We are collaborating with the town of Chaplin which is letting us borrow a special Department of Public Works truck to backfill the recently installed curbing on East and West Old Route 6 in return for a few days of Public Works manpower from Hampton. The DPW crew will be erecting guardrails and performing other finish work on the recently finished roads as the warm, pleasant weather draws to a close.
We’ve hired a contractor from Canterbury to erect a peaked roof and side the old town garage building for a very reasonable price, work that will start within a couple of weeks. After countless problems with the Town Hall server, we will be replacing portions of the wiring in the building that feeds the server which will hopefully get rid of the issues. Enjoy the autumn foliage and cross your fingers for some much needed rainfall!
These may be the Dog Days of summer for most, but Hampton’s Public Works Department is having a busy season! You’ll notice that East Old Route 6 milling and paving is complete except for the curbing. The Crew harvested 45 truckloads of millings from the old road to be used in other paving projects around town. Speaking of which, West Old Route 6 and Old Town Pound Road are next on the agenda. In addition, Comer Contracting out of Farmington has been given the project of chip-sealing the remainder of Windham Road to the Canterbury line – that should happen within the next few weeks. More work is being done on Town Hall, installing siding in all the spots where the former individual heating and air conditioning units were removed. Also, some electrical upgrades and general cleanup is being done in the lower level of the building. We are also looking into re-roofing the old town garage, which is currently being used to house out-of-season equipment.
An unexpected additional request for reimbursement for the Windham Regional Transit District’s Dial-a-Ride program has prompted some research into transferring to the Northeast Transit District next fiscal year. There might be the possibility of getting a dedicated route in addition to Dial-a-Ride service. Costs with WRTD have doubled in the last three years. Those costs are based upon ridership in the previous year; WRTD reports that 1,341 rides were provided last year and 385 through May of this year, but we are having trouble getting documentation to verify those ridership statistics. If you use WRTD’s Dial-a-Ride program, please give my office a call and let me know how often you utilize this service. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
I am proud to announce that we have a new Agent for the Elderly, Jane Cornell, who will be reaching out to seniors and working to help them attain services they may need. Let me also take this opportunity to extend our deep felt gratitude to Mario Fiondello who has provided this service for many years. Jane is a registered nurse who has lived in Hampton since 1978. Her grandparents, John and Lucy Lewis were lifelong residents of Hampton. She has worked with seniors through programs at McSweeny and Willington Senior Centers. She is a certified Geriatric Care Manager.
The goal of the Elderly Service Agent is to assist those elder Hampton residents who may be having difficulty managing any number of aspects of their home or who are looking to plan for the future. Jane will try to link our seniors with someone who specializes in their specific need. Consultations can be provided by phone or through home visits. Please call Town Hall at 860 455-9132, ext. 2 to schedule an appointment.
Out ribbon cutting and open house for the new garage was well attended and a great success. Thanks to all who helped with the making the garage a reality especially the garage committee: chair Dan Meade, and members John Berard, Dot Blocker, Allan Cahill, Wayne DeCarli, Mike Ford, Brian Murphy, Penny Newbury, Alex Seretny, Brian Tracy, and Pete Vertefauille. Also thanks to Bob and Linda Grindle for the refreshments.
Many of you changed your electrical generator to Direct Energy in order to save money on your electric bills. We did the same for the town. I am happy to report that not only did we reduce the cost of purchasing electricity, but also the town received a check for $851.52, based on the town's percentage for usage by customers. We will continue to receive this as long as customers continue with Direct Energy.
CL&P and Ngrid are planning on constructing 37 miles of new 345-kv overhead lines from Card Street in Lebanon to the Rhode Island border. For Hampton, this means 4.3 miles of 345-kv transmission lines adjacent to the existing 345-kv line on existing right-of-way, which is located south of Route 6. The CL&P Interstate Reliability Project has rescheduled their presentation to Hampton residents to Monday, November 7, at 7PM in the lower level at Town Hall, (before the Board of Selectman's meeting).
The 2011-2012 budget has been the major focus of the Board of Selectmen this month. A new proposed budget will result in a reduction of one mill for taxpayers. This means that for a home assessed at $100,000, the new budget would mean a $100 decrease in taxes.
Decreases to the budget from the 2011-2012 budget include:
· A 20% contribution to single person insurance for elected officials. (They will continue to pay 100% of family or spousal plan). Health insurance costs to the town have been reduced by $18,733 or 16.98%.
· There are no pay increases in this budget for any elected officials or employees.
· Reductions were made in the Capital and Non-recurring accounts –
o Trucks and Equipment from $30,000 to $15,000.
o Open Space Acquisition from $30,000 to $10,000 (the land acquisition account remains funded at $10,000.)
o Fire Truck from $30,000 to $20,000.
· A $10,000 deduction for computer server (a new server was purchased out of 2010-2011 budget).
· A $4,000 reduction of computer support (contracted services for support were changed).
· A $5,500 reduction for tax collector assistant.
· A $3,000 reduction for Town Hall electricity. (New photovoltaic panels reduce costs).
· A $3,000 reduction for the Recreation Commission. (They have over $6,000 in their account for programs this year).
Increases from the 2010-2011 budget include:
o $3,000 for Tree Removal.
o $1,000 for Elderly Service Provider.
o $3,000 for Youth Sports.
o $4,914 for Fire Hoses.
o $141,900 for debt service for the new Town Garage.
The above comparisons are made from the 2010-2011 budget. Changes that were made since the last proposed budget include:
· Reduction of $6,000 eliminates Treasurer’s Bookkeeping Services.
· Family health insurance coverage for the First Selectman was eliminated.
· Increase in insurance contribution for single coverage from 10% to 20% for elected officials. (They will continue to pay 100% of family or spousal plan).
· $10,000 was put back into the Land Acquisition account.
· Town increased contribution to library was reduced from $2,000 to $1,000.
· Youth Sports contribution was reduced by $1,000/
· Reductions were made in the Capital and Non-recurring accounts –
o Trucks and Equipment from $30,000 to $15,000
o Open Space Acquisition from $30,000 to $10,000 (the land acquisition account remains funded at $10,000)
o Fire Truck from $30,000 to $20,000
I encourage you to come into Town Hall and pick up a budget to review, or view it on the front page of this website (please scroll to the bottom of the page). Our next Town Meeting will be on Thursday, June 30 at 7 PM, in the lower level of Town Hall. The next budget referendum will take place on Thursday, July 7 from noon to 8 PM. Absentee ballots will be available at the Town Clerk’s office, including from 9 AM – Noon on July 7.
The Board of Selectmen submitted four proposals for the Small Towns Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants. They are as follows:
$15,000 for renovations at the Fletcher Memorial Library (thanks to the staff and library board for submitting this proposal).
$32,000 for abatement of asbestos, remediation of mold and reconstruction of walls and restrooms in the lower level of Town Hall.
$180,000 for a new generator for Hampton Elementary School.
$172,000 for a new parking lot at Hampton Elementary School.
A special thanks to Administrative Assistant Liz Stillman for help in writing these last two grants. The CT Office of Policy and Management will notify Hampton sometime this fall about the grant decisions.The Town of Hampton has a beautiful new brochure entitled "Hampton Grown - A
Spring has come slowly this year, but we know it is here because Hampton's youngest athletes are out on the field at Town Hall learning the game of baseball. Stop by sometime and watch; it is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face on any tough day. One of the things that makes these days difficult for the selectmen is developing a budget that honors the reality that economic times are still hard, but also takes care of the needs of our town.
The BOS accepted the proposed budget at the April 21st meeting. By taking $62,000 from the general fund balance; there will be no increase of the mill rate this year for the combined operating budgets for the town and education. The final budget is available at the Town Clerk's Office at Town Hall and through this 2011-2012 budget link.
The annual Town Meeting will take place on Monday, May 16 at 7:30 PM at Hampton Elementary School. Plan to come early at 7 and sample some of the delicious desserts at the pie social, this year organized by Hampton's Republicans and friends. Tuesday, May 17, the referendum for the budget will take place from noon-8 PM at Town Hall. If you'll be out of town on during those hours, you can vote by absentee ballot. The Town Clerk will be available that morning to take ballots at 9 AM.
It was a challenge to keep our budget down when the price of oil, insurance, asphalt, etc. keeps rising. Some of the increases are due to those factors. Others include investment in our infrastructure. We have kept the $220,000 for paving in the budget, nearly $100,000 of that comes from state reimbursement. The plan for this year was to pave Old Town Pound Road and North Bigelow Road. The cost to pave all of North Bigelow is shockingly nearly $300,000, so we will probably pave only part of that road, and perhaps chip seal other roads before they also need paving. We also added $3,000 for trees, since so many on the roads need pruning or removal. Our crew takes care of many of these trees, but some require a cherry picker to take them down safely.
We have included a 2% cost of living raise to most town employees, which includes elected officials. Most have not been given a raise in over 3 years. We have a substantial increase to the Treasurer whose pay has been well below similar positions in our town and compared to other towns. This increase will help alleviate that unbalance. The Tax Collector will receive only a 1% increase to help offset this. The tradition in Hampton has been that the Selectmen's salaries are decided by a group of three comprised of the Chairs of the Democrat Town Committee, Republican Town Committee, and an independent voter. This year Bob Grindle, Sue Hochstetter, and Dan Meade recommended a $1,000 increase for the First Selectman bringing the salary up to $25,355, and a $380 increase for the two Selectmen, bringing those salaries up to $4,000 for each.
The Capital and Non-recurring budget has remained the same except we moved $10,000 from the land acquisition account and put it into building maintenance, on the theory that we need to take care of what we have before acquiring more. This money will help build a fund for a new floor in the basement of Town Hall (asbestos needs to be removed or encapsulated) and we to need replace the ceiling once Windham Technical students complete the ductwork for the heating system. We've also added nearly $2,500 for maintenance of the Community Center at the Grange.
Another increase is a $1,000 line item for an elderly service provider. This position is mandated by the state and has been fulfilled free to the town in past years by Mario Fiondello. Many thanks to Mario for his commitment to the seniors of Hampton. This allocated money will allow us to hire a certified person to look in on seniors who need help, on an as-needed basis.
We included a $16,000 line item for solar panels at the garage; half of this will be offset by a grant from the CT Clean Energy Fund matching grant that is available only at the time of installation of the free kW system earned by Hampton. Thanks to the Green Energy Committee for helping Hampton earn the system. The $8,000 will be spent only if we are not successful in receiving a free system from DCS solar.
We have decreased the budget in several places to help offset the above-mentioned costs. We will have big savings in Computer/Support. We have an arrangement with Windham to provide us with IT service. We have been very pleased with our new IT specialist, Brian Hathaway, who is not only saving us $4,000 per year, but also providing us with excellent service. The $10,000 in last year's budget for the purchase of a new server (which we did purchase) was eliminated in this budget.
Other savings are in line items for electricity (due to insulation and solar panels), phones, Tax Collector's assistant, and reducing registrars' office hours from four to two per week. You can see other cuts by viewing the budget.
The Town Government budget shows a shocking increase of 11.38 %, but don't be alarmed. Most of the increased percentage is due to the debt service for the new town garage. The $141,900 per year was factored into last year's mill rate, but was not included in last year's operating budget, because the vote for the garage appropriation was too late to be included. So the mill rate will not increase based on this expense. We took a five-year loan at 3.25%, the 2011-2012 budget is the second year of that debt expense.
There will be a Town Meeting on Thursday at 7:30 PM in the Community Room at Town Hall to vote on two items concerning capitol improvements at Hampton Elementary School – a new roof and a replacement sliding curtain for the multi-purpose room. I hope you can attend to vote on these capitol expenses.
This meeting was postponed from last week; sorry for any inconvenience that may have caused you. We failed to post the meeting five days in advance outside Town Hall. We have been extremely busy these days and I am sorry to say a few postings have slipped through the cracks. We’ll do better.
I’d like to announce that we have hired a new administrative assistant, Liz Stillman. She has a great deal of experience and has taken on the job with enthusiasm. Great thanks to Marlene Aulten who served the town well and has purchased a new business. We wish her best of luck. Please stop by the Selectman’s office to meet Llz.
Town Hall was buzzing with Hampton Elementary School’s third grade class last week. Ms. Sanchini’s class visited the Town Clerk, Tax Collector, and First Selectman. They asked interesting questions and created a bulletin board of student art that will be displayed outside the Town Clerk’s office. They were given a tour of the basement and Ms. Sanchini reminisced about her old classroom. The students were surprised to learn the library was contained in the stage at the former school. Their visit was a good introduction to government and the most fun I’ve had at Town Hall.
Hampton Seniors officers Fred Curry, Mario Fiondello, Harry Baum, and I took a trip to the Chaplin Senior Center at the invitation of their First Selectman Bill Rose. We had a tour of the building and met with Roxanne St. Jean, the center’s director. Hampton seniors (50 and up) were graciously invited to become more involved in the center. Everyone is welcome to join at a yearly cost of $15 for out-of-towners. They offer daily programs, lunch every Wednesday at noon, and breakfast on Thursdays at 8:30. ($5 and $4 respectively). The Center is open Monday-Thursday 9AM – 2 PM. Twenty Hampton seniors attended their St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. The center will have a special free luncheon to welcome Hampton seniors on Wednesday, April 20tand a breakfast on April 27 at 8:30 AM.You must call the center at 860 455-1327 to make a reservation. I encourage all seniors to check out the center and take advantage of this great place and make new friends right next door.
As I spend some time this week of Thanksgiving with my family, I realize I have many things to be thankful for, including the continued support of the community of Hampton. I very much look forward to working with Selectmen Chapel and Grindle and all of the boards and commissions for the continued self-improvement of the Town of Hampton. Happy Holidays!