Old Lyme to vote Tuesday on whether or not to join Ledge Light Health District

Old Lyme — Residents will vote Tuesday on whether or not the town should join Ledge Light Health District.

A special town meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.

Town officials have said they began considering joining Ledge Light Health District — which serves as the health department for East Lyme, both the city and town of Groton, Ledyard, New London and Waterford — following the resignation of Old Lyme's sanitarian last spring and turnover within the position in previous years.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said in a phone interview last week that the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance have considered the decision both in terms of cost savings and services and felt it's time to bring it to a public vote.

At a public hearing last month attended by about 15 people, Reemsnyder and Stephen Mansfield, director of health for Ledge Light, gave presentations.

If Old Lyme were to join Ledge Light Health District, the town would pay Ledge Light $115,222 annually for the first and second years. That cost comprises a $55,222 fee, based on the town's population, and an additional $60,000 for extra costs that would be incurred if Ledge Light takes on Old Lyme, according to the presentation.

Old Lyme also would budget an additional $30,000 for items not covered by Ledge Light, including goose control at Hains and Town Woods Parks and storm water testing.

For the third year, Old Lyme and Ledge Light would discuss reducing the extra $60,000 fee. In the fourth year, Ledge Light only would charge the population-based fee of $55,222, according to the presentation.

If Old Lyme stays with its own health district, it budgeted about $202,000 for Fiscal Year 2017.

At the hearing, some spoke in favor of joining Ledge Light, but others raised concerns about service under a regional health district.

Reemsnyder said in the phone interview that under the agreement the town is working out with Ledge Light Health District, the health department's administrative assistant will spend at least half of her time in town for the first two years, which she said will provide consistency and help mitigate some of the concerns.

At last month's hearing, the presentation also outlined the pros and cons of joining Ledge Light Health District, including that the district is fully staffed with sanitarians and has an epidemiologist on staff, but some service fees would be higher under Ledge Light Health District.

At Tuesday's meeting, voters also will decide whether or not to approve $911,100 to cover the cost of construction for the Sound View improvements project, an amount that includes contingency.

While voters in July approved $877,000 for construction costs, Reemsnyder said the bids for the project came in higher than expected.

The amount would be 80 percent reimbursable, she said.

The last two items on Tuesday's agenda pertain to easements at Hains Park for several properties near Rogers Lake.

k.drelich@theday.com

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