Town Hall

Should the RTM Decide the Site of Parkside Village?

by marcia chambers | Apr 25, 2017 7:28 am

Marcia Chambers Photo A group of Democratic Representative Town Meeting (RTM) members rose as one at this month’s RTM meeting to denounce the make-up, legality and the reach of a special RTM sub-committee set up to decide if the Parkside Village affordable housing project will be built at the former site of the Branford Hills Elementary School (pictured above).

The uproar about the RTM sub-committee and its purpose came after RTM Moderator Dennis Flanagan (R-5th) appointed Ray Ingraham (R-5th), RTM Republican majority leader, as chair of the sub-committee. Both Ingraham and Flanagan represent the Fifth District where Parkside Village has been located since the 1970s. The 30-member RTM consists of 19 Republicans and 11 Democrats, representing seven districts.

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An Uncertain $112.4M Town-School Budget Emerges

by marcia chambers | Mar 22, 2017 11:09 am

Marcia Chambers Photo A whopping $112.4 million budget, based on as yet-unresolved state education funding and a gubernatorial proposal to have towns and cities pay their share of teacher pension costs, was unveiled before the town’s Board of Finance (BOF) Monday. 

If the state legislature approves the governor’s pension plan, Branford’s budget will increase by at least 6.2 percent, possibly even 1 percent more. If the state legislature rejects the plan, the town budget will increase by about 3.2 percent, Joseph Mooney, the chair of the Board of Finance said at the hearing.

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BOS Appoints Two of Four Temporary Building Commission Members

by Diana Stricker | Mar 6, 2017 9:06 am

With Permission Two department heads have been appointed to serve as temporary members of the Public Building Commission to oversee the Community House/Senior Center project; and two seats are still open.

The Board of Selectman (BOS) unanimously appointed Dagmar Ridgway, director of the Canoe Brook Senior Center; and Alex Palluzzi, Jr., director of the Parks and Recreation Department, to serve on the commission.

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Cosgrove Testifies as Town, Legislators Grapple With Proposed Education Cuts

by Sally E. Bahner | Mar 3, 2017 9:00 am

First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove (pictured) testified before the state legislature’s Education Committee in Hartford Wednesday, making the case for a $30 million state grant for the renovation and expansion of the Walsh Intermediate School.

He was among a number of town officials from across the state who came before the Education Committee seeking funding for renovating or building new schools. 

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Cosgrove & Ahern Disagree over Building Commission Role

by Diana Stricker | Feb 13, 2017 9:14 am

Diana Stricker Photo The Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved the next phases of the Senior Center/Community House project but not without dissent from the third selectman over the absence of the building commission during the first 40 percent of the design process.

The BOS also appointed a special building committee to oversee construction of the new Indian Neck Fire House.

First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove said it’s time to take the next steps now that the Board of Finance (BOF) and the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) have approved the $12.1 million renovation and expansion of the Senior Center/Community House.

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School Budget Comes In at $55.3M

by marcia chambers | Feb 3, 2017 9:36 am | Comments (1)

Marcia Chambers Photo Schools Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez (pictured) has proposed a $55.3 million school budget for FY2018, a 1.96 percent increase over last year’s budget, even though enrollment across the school district is declining. Funding the town’s schools is the largest portion of the overall town budget.

“This is the tightest budget I have ever submitted in my seven years here,” Hernandez told the board when he ended his 30-minute presentation Wednesday night.. He spoke before educators, elected officials and parents, about 30 in all at Branford High School. Jim Finch, the town’s finance director, attended the meeting along with Don Neel, the Chief Operating Officer for the Branford public schools. BCTV, Branford’s public television station, filmed it.

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Town’s Top Public Works Leaders Quit

by marcia chambers | Jan 9, 2017 12:10 pm | Comments (2)

Marcia Chambers Photo Branford’s first major snowstorm of the year hit the town with a fury this past weekend and Department of Public Works crews, the town’s first responders in a snowstorm, were out plowing the town’s streets and byways. But this storm was different.

It was different because the Department of Public Works’ two top officials, the men who have led the department, were not there to oversee the operation. They resigned their leadership posts within the last month.

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Holiday Recycling Bag Brigade Begins

by marcia chambers | Dec 19, 2016 8:13 am

Photo by Dori Hanlon The holiday season’s brown bag brigade went to work with speed and experience on Friday and in about two hours prepared 4,000 recycling paper bags, all with newly attached green stickers. Branford volunteers were joined by North Branford kids and parents who made their debut.

The bags will be distributed Wednesday to the town’s schools in time for students to take them home for Christmas this Sunday. The bags may be picked up by the public at town hall, and the town’s churches. After Christmas, all a family has to do is place the brown bag out to the curb on their designated trash pick-up day. Need a second bag, use another one and mark it “wrapping paper.”

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Will the RTM Approve $12.1M Bonding for Community-Senior Center?

by marcia chambers | Dec 14, 2016 9:20 am

Marcia Chambers Photo By a 4-1 vote with the chair dissenting, the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM)  Ways and Means Committee last week approved a $12.1 million authorization for a community house-senior center renovation on Church Street. The recommendation goes before the full RTM meeting tonight at 8 p.m. at Fire Headquarters. 

Rep. Peter Black (R-3), chair of Ways & Means, voted against the bonding, saying there were too many unknowns regarding other current projects, including the Walsh Intermediate School and other proposed projects. The community house project is now 50 percent higher than expected. In 2013 Finance Director Jim Finch outlined the bonding process here.

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Divided RTM Challenges $12.1M Cost of Community-Senior Center

by marcia chambers | Dec 5, 2016 8:43 am

Marcia Chambers Photo A divided Representative Town Meeting (RTM), concerned that the community house-senior center renovation has reached a cost of $12.1 million, raised a series of questions, many not yet answered, as First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove pressed for a speedy decision in order for an RTM vote by mid-December.

But the scheduled vote for Dec. 14 is not yet written in stone. RTM members from both parties raised a number of questions on a number of topics, ranging from on-site contamination to excessive costs for a renovated building, especially as Cosgrove and the Board of Education seek an $88.2 million renovation of the Walsh Intermediate School, the most expensive project undertaken by the town. (The town’s share for the Walsh project is about $58 million. The state’s share is between $25.7 million and $28.4 million. Whether the state grants this amount given its current fiscal crisis, remains to be seen.)

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