Bolton first selectman gives outlook for 2013
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Bolton - posted Thu., Jan. 3, 2013
The new year brings with it many promises and opportunities. But for municipal leaders across the state, the year 2013 is looking grim. In Bolton, First Selectman Robert Morra gave his outlook for the coming year – an outlook that is not without strong concerns.
“The difficult thing for us – and every municipality – will be maintaining our service level with the anticipation that state funding will be reduced in a number of areas,” said Morra. The state legislature's Dec. 19 decision to help close Connecticut's $415 million budget deficit by cutting more than $17 million in municipal aid will affect towns throughout the state, including Bolton. On the chopping block was funding for road improvements to the town. These funds are a supplement to the town's tax revenue, and fortunately will not impact town operations. However, Moira said road projects the town was hoping to complete for this year will now have to be stretched across two years, due to the cuts.
“My biggest concern is what [state legislators] are going to do on the education side,” he said. “There's going to have to be deductions, and many times, rather than hit their own, they hit municipalities. They just pass the buck.” This comes at a time when job growth seems barely existent in the state. “We as municipalities have had to have balanced budgets, without gimmicks, and we do that year after year after year. And the state really hasn't faced the fiscal situation.”
Other issues in town include the maintenance of Bolton Lake, which has had problems with algae bloom and vegetation growth. This is an issue Morra foresees the town grappling with for several years to come, but a plan is in place. “We have been aggressively putting together a program for 2013, which will roll over into 2014, to successfully manage the algae bloom and vegetation growth,” said Morra.
Morra also points to a major sewer project that the town is currently undertaking with the town of Vernon. This is a five-phase project, and the first three phases are already complete. The fourth contract has just been awarded, and they are putting out bids for the fifth. The first phase began along Route 6, the second covered a part of the Bolton Lake area, the third is along Route 44 and the eastern portion of Bolton Lake, the fourth will include a small portion of Bolton and a significant portion of Vernon, and the fifth section will cover everything remaining in the Vernon area.
“By the end of this year, the remaining portion will be under contract, and by sometime in 2014, the entire system will be operational,” said Morra. “That's a goal I know we will attain, barring some totally unforeseen circumstance.”
Another project that the town intends on finishing this year is a study regarding a recreational facility which looks at the needs of the town and school system in terms of new athletic fields or facilities. “That will be wrapping up this year, and we will be putting forth a significant proposal this year as a bond package,” he said. He anticipates this going out if not this year, then the next. The study is currently in the process of determining where new fields might go. Candidates for expansion include the fields behind the high school, as well as Herrick Memorial Park. The end goal is a finished product that will carry the town for the next 10 to 15 years, if not longer, Morra said.