Norwich voters have 2 referendum questions to answer

Norwich — In addition to deciding among five mayoral candidates, 17 City Council candidates, 11 school board candidates and two treasurer candidates, city voters will have to turn their attention to the far right side of the election ballot.

Two referendum questions will ask voters whether they support a combined $8.2 million in bonding divided into separate questions asking for $3.2 million for firetrucks for four volunteer fire departments and other fire safety equipment, and $5 million for roads, bridges and infrastructure improvements.

Little attention has been paid this fall to the referendum questions, but a rally in support of the fire equipment bond is planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Norwichtown Green. The five trucks slated to be replaced will be on display and firefighters familiar with the vehicles will be available to discuss the proposal.

Explanatory texts for the bond questions, including calculated tax impacts of the bonds, are available in the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 100 Broadway.

The proposed $3.2 million fire equipment bond, listed first on the ballot, includes the purchase of an engine tanker for the East Great Plain Volunteer Fire Department, a rescue pumper and a large squad vehicle for the Taftville Volunteer Fire Department, a pumper truck for the Yantic volunteer department and a pumper truck for the Laurel Hill volunteer department.

The bond also would cover “any additional public safety equipment, including communications equipment, as later determined and approved by resolution of the City Council.”

The five new fire vehicles would replace six fire vehicles ranging in age from a 1979 Yantic pumper truck to a 2000 Taftville squad car.

The fire bond was approved by the City Council 6-1 on July 17, with Mayor Deberey Hinchey voting against it. Discussion centered on the decision to remove the purchases from the capital improvements budget and place them in a bond referendum question, rather than funding them through the annual property tax rate.

City finance officials calculated the tax impact for the first five years of the 20-year bond. At a 4 percent interest rate for the $3.2 million bond, property taxes on single-family home at the median assessed value of $93,800 — appraised value of $134,000 — would be $17 in each of the first two years, $16 in each of the following two years and $15 in the fifth year.

The second question asks whether voters support a $5 million bond for infrastructure improvements, including road reconstruction and paving, bridges, sidewalks, city piers and wharves at Norwich Harbor. Norwich voters have approved similar $5 million road improvement bonds in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

During discussion of the road bond in August, Public Works Director Ryan Thompson said if approved, the bulk of the money would go for road paving and drainage in targeted areas, with some money for bridge work and a small amount, about $80,000 for sidewalk improvements to make city infrastructure in compliance with the American With Disabilities Act.

Specific roads to be targeted include Sholes Avenue, Asylum Street, Old Canterbury Turnpike, West Avenue, Teddy Lane and side streets off Laurel Hill Avenue-Route 12. Streets in the Greeneville, Thamesville and East Great Plain areas also would be included.

If the city bonded the $5 million in three installments in 2018, 2019 and 2020 at a 4 percent interest rate, the taxes on a median valued single-family home would be $11 in 2019, $21 in 2020, $26 in 2021 and $25 in each of the following two years.

c.bessette@theday.com

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