Selectmen discuss ways to use state and town funds


SHARON - At their fist meeting of the new year, the selectmen tackled a multitude of topics in a brisk, 90-minute session.

Poor Fund Committee

Much of the meeting centered on the possibility of reactivating the Poor Fund Committee. The Poor Fund, which was created by the sale of the old Poor farm that was located by Veterans Field, currently has about $50,000 that can be used at the discretion of the selectmen and the town's social service agent.

First Selectman Malcolm Brown reported that he had been called upon in the past to make individual decisions about the money and that it weighed on him having to do so.

Brown said that having to decide how to spend the money is no small feat since the balance of the Poor Fund cannot be allowed to dip below $40,000 each fiscal year, and that use of the money must be carefully determined.

In the past it has been used to help families make necessary home repairs they could not afford on their own. Brown suggested reactivating the committee so that they could work toward establishing guidelines for use of the fund.

Town meetings Jan. 23 and 25

The board announced that a special town meeting will be held on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to allow residents to vote on whether or not the town should appropriate $1,672,000 for costs connected to upgrading and repairing the current sewer system; the use of $20,000 for expenditures related to the old Amenia landfill and whether or not to authorize the use of $27,000 out of the Board of Education's portion of the capital non-recurring account to replace one of the school's boilers.

In addition there will be another special town meeting on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. where voters will be asked to decide whether the Board of Selectmen should follow through on the Youth and Recreation Commission's proposal to build a recreation center at Veterans Field.

The selectmen talked about the condition of the Community Center near Sharon Center School.

A recent inspection of the facilities found the building to be in "generally good condition."

However some rot was found, and drainage at the site would need to be improved to prevent flooding in the basement.

The board seemed to be in favor of keeping the building with the idea of rebuilding the kitchen, fixing the gutters and adding an elevator. The roof, which was replaced in 1998, and the furnace were both in good shape and the selctmen feel the building can be fixed.

A presentation of this data to the Long-Range Planning Committee is also planned.

State funds for transfer station

The board discussed putting in a grant application to the state for $500,000 for the possible purchase of land at the Luke-Fitting site in Salisbury for a new transfer station.

Brown reported that the purchase of the land would cost the town at least $500,000 and said he would prefer the Luke-Fitting location, as opposed to the current site at The Hotchkiss School, but that it would ultimately be up to the voters in Sharon and Salisbury to decide.

"The site is barely adequate," Brown said. "A recent engineer grading system gave Hotchkiss a 'C' while Luke-Fitting received an 'A' in terms of desirability."

Brown continued on to shed some light on the complicated financial situation that could arise from staying at Hotchkiss, most notably the $15,000-a-year rental cost on the site that comes with the possibility of a proposed 50-year lease.

"Fifteen-thousand dollars a year rent with a fixed interest of 4.4 percent could create a problem with some people," Brown said. "That is $750,000 over 50 years plus interest that could increase the cost to a million or a million and a half."

Other uses too for state funds

The board also considered using STEAP money to upgrade the town garage, which they feel is too small and has created some concern due to the fact that some of the town's equipment must be stored outside during the winter.

The dog pound and the restroom facilities at Veterans Field could be due for an upgrade using state funds as well, according to Brown, who also reported that TriArts recently asked for his help with a state grant of their own to improve their facilities.

Deer eradication plan

Brown gave a report on a recent meeting of the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments (COG), where a plan was presented for controlling Lyme disease.

The COG is a regional group made up of the first selectmen from nine regional towns, including all six towns in the Region One School District.

At the meeting, Dr. Georgina Scholl's proposal for the eradication of 90 percent of Connecticut's deer population met near-unanimous support from the assembled representatives.

Brown reported that his was the only dissenting vote on the plan. The first selectman said that trying to carry out such a plan would not only be impossible but also unsafe for humans.

The Lyme disease control plan would call for increased hunting.Brown fears it would contribute to a rise in accidental deaths related to hunting accidents.

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