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 reduction of $92,000 in solid waste and recycling may be offset by changing the program to a self-funding account. Permit fees may be required for residents to use the station and some disposal fees (e.g. metals) may be increased. A reduction of $45,850 for Senior and Youth Services if not restored will lead to the elimination of some activities and staff. It is hoped that grants may continue to support ongoing programs.
Smith noted that the State of Connecticut budget may not be finalized until September or October, while many towns are expected to have their budgets set in April. The town and school budgets will be presented to the Board of Finance at its Monday, March 27, meeting. Copies of the budget book will be available at the Town Hall, the libraries and the Police Department starting at noon on Thursday, April 6. The Public Hearing will take place at Granby Memorial High School at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 10.
In other business, the board approved applications for grants requested by Director of Human Services Sandra Yost. The Older American Act Grant of just under $7,000, supports programs for grandparents who are taking care of grandchildren. The Connecticut Department of Transportation Grant will be used to replace the 2009 lift van. The $60,000 grant requires a 20 percent matching grant from the town, which is made possible by donations from the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Fund, the Lions Club and the Senior Club.
In another action, the board approved a resolution required by the Connecticut Small Cities Community Development Program that the town provide $40,000 before the awarding of the $800,000 as described in the March Drummer for improvements to elderly housing.
Several residents and some non-residents read anonymous statements during the public session of the March 6 meeting regarding racist experiences that people have faced in the town. One statement was read by the actual person who experienced the racism. These readings were in response to the incident involving a racial slur placed on the announcement sign at the high school in February.
The appointment of Peter Gunn to the Park and Recreation Board was approved.