The culmination of Bill Smith’s retirement party was the announcement that the two drives into Granby’s Municipal Complex, the development of which Smith had overseen, would be known as William F. Smith, Jr. Way. The crowd rose to applaud the announcement and honor its recipient.
It was standing room only, with every seat in Holcomb Farm’s North Barn occupied and people two or three deep around the perimeter for the June 4 celebration honoring Smith’s almost 40 years of service. Former members of the Board of Selectmen going back decades, town officials and representatives from neighboring towns’ governments were testament to the admiration and respect Smith attained during his tenure here in Granby.
John D. Ward of Vernon has been appointed as Granby’s new town manager, effective July 13. Ward will replace William F. Smith, Jr. who retired after 39 years.
Ward has served as chief administrative officer for the Town of Vernon since January 2009. His responsibilities were very much the same as a town manager except he reported to the mayor and not a council or board of selectmen. He previously served on the Vernon Town Council and Board of Education. He was a practicing attorney from 1992 to 2008, specializing in labor relations and worker compensation law. He received his J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and is currently working on his master in public administration degree from the University of Connecticut.
By Shirley Murtha
The Wilhelm Farm on Rte. 189 in North Granby has been awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture for the period March 1, 2017 through September 30, 2019. The official title of the project is Wilhelm Farm: Demonstrations of Silvopasture and Other Agroforestry Systems. The NRCS demonstrations will include web pages, videos, fact sheets and onsite activities. They will be used by agency professionals, outreach specialists and practicing landowners.
It’s time for the 2017 Joseph B. Nilsen Memorial Golf Tournament. Join the Granby and Bradley Regional Chambers of Commerce for another fun-filled day on a great course for a great cause at Crestview Country Club, 281 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam, Mass., on Monday, June 5, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
By Kim Becker
Pressure is mounting on the schools and Town in light of the revenue shortfall facing the State. Governor Malloy’s revised budget demands almost $4 million from Granby, including cuts to the ECS and shifting the cost of the State’s contributions to the teachers’ pension fund to municipalities. Though the Town passed a budget last month, deep funding cuts will make it difficult to maintain services.
By Jim Lofink
The Granby Democratic Town Committee (DTC) would like to thank Congressman John Larson for supporting it in offering a second $1,000 scholarship to recognize a Granby student who best exemplifies the DTC mission of making Granby a better community, and has demonstrated engagement in the political process.
This year, the DTC increased it’s annual scholarship from $500 to $1,000 due to increased community support. With Congressman Larson’s support this year, DTC will offer not one, but two scholarships to graduating Granby high school seniors going on to college.
By Susan Altieri, CCMA, II
The Town of Granby is in the process of beginning state mandated revaluation for October 1. State law now requires all municipalities to conduct a revaluation every five years. Revaluation is the equalization of property values by estimating the current market value of all properties in town. Its purpose is to value all property by the same standards at the same point in time.
The town has hired Vision Government Solutions to assist the Assessor’s office with this project. As part of the process, the town has compiled a data mailer with information about the property from existing town records and previous house-to-house visits. These data mailers were sent the first week of March.
By Shirley Murtha
At the March 6 Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Bill Smith reiterated his concern that services will need to be cut to adhere to the Board of Finance’s directive for no increases in town operations for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition to a minimum of money expected from the state, the state is asking Granby to provide $1,514,998 to support the teachers retirement fund. This will have a serious impact on the budget. With other state revenue cuts, it would change a potential mill rate from under 3 percent to around 10 percent. In order to meet the zero percent increase, Smith identified reductions in all social service categories, reduced supply purchases and a reduction in part-time help.
To illustrate his remarks, Smith identified the following reductions in the 2017-2018 budget as prepared March 6: $13,000 in Legal Services; $60,000 (50 percent) in Contingency and Reserve, which will curtail the town’s ability to respond to emergencies and other unexpected situations; $16,800 in General and Equipment Maintenance in Public Works; $46,000 in Fire Prevention; $19,221 in Library Services, which would lead to a reduction in hours at both Granby Public and Cossitt.
A group of citizens is seeking input from the community regarding establishing an ethics committee for the town of Granby. It has posted a survey on its website: www.granbytaxpayers.org
An article in last month’s Drummer asked for participation, but there has been a relatively small response. The majority, 69 percent of respondents, answered “yes.” Comments included, “thank you for this” and “pleased if there were a forum to pose inquiries on legitimate topics by citizens.”
The group encourages you to participate if you want more transparency in the administration of town business and budget process. This is an opportunity to establish an appropriate forum for citizens. Over 40 percent of Connecticut towns have ethics committees, as does the State of Connecticut (see interview with the Office of State Ethics executive director on p. 21).