North Stonington to hold town meeting Monday on budget, seven other measures

North Stonington — A town meeting will be held Monday for residents to discuss the proposed town budget and vote on seven proposed measures, including possible ordinance changes, increased building department fees and an additional appropriation for environmental remediation at the elementary school.

Town officials have said that the building fees have not been updated in many years and are not enough to sustain the Building Department, and they also are asking residents to appropriate $65,000 from the general fund to pay for the unexpected costs of testing and remediation of PCB contaminants found at the elementary school last August.

Although the costs of addressing the PCBs are built into the school modernization project going forward, the town still has to pay the invoices for the work that was done to deal with the issue prior to this month, when construction crews began to work on the building.

The town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Wheeler Library.

The meeting also will provide another opportunity for residents to discuss the proposed $19.9 million fiscal year 2018-19 budget. That spending plan consists of a $5.07 million general government operating budget and a $13.5 million education budget, and will be voted on at referendum on June 2.

“One of the different things this year is the question for our vote is going to be one question for referendum,” First Selectman Mike Urgo said, explaining that this year’s budget will be voted on as one budget instead of separate education and general government budgets as it has in recent years.

Urgo added that this approach is a return to how things were prior to 2007 and will allow town officials greater ability to modify the proposed budget if it fails at referendum. He said it also helps the town avoid a situation like it had last year, when one budget passed and the other failed.

“We put a lot of careful thought into the budgets, and I hope that people will find it to be something they can support,” Urgo said.

Changes in the phrasing of the question is not the only thing different with this year’s budget cycle, as the town meeting itself also will be slightly altered.

Along with being held in a different venue than usual, the meeting will have extra focus on the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development as it enters its fifth year, and feature a special presentation from Juliet Hodge, the town’s planning, development & zoning official.

Many town committees will have tables set up at the town meeting, as well.

“We’re really going to have a little more community feel,” Urgo said.

Residents will vote on several other measures at the meeting Monday, including:

  • The Five Year Local Capital Improvement Plan, as amended for fiscal years 2017-23.
  • The sale of the condominiums at the Holly Green Complex.
  • Whether to accept town ownership of a historical building currently deeded to the North Stonington Baptist Church.
  • Authorizing and empowering the Board of Selectmen to borrow up to $1 million without having to go to town meeting. Urgo said this measure is intended to help the selectmen immediately address an emergency situation if needed.

The proposed ordinance changes for which residents will vote on Monday can be found online at the North Stonington website, and Urgo said they are mainly intended to "clean up" some ordinances related to land use.

c.clark@theday.com

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