State of the town: ‘Everything looks good going forward’

First Selectman Rudy Marconi delivering the annual Chamber of Commerce state of the town address. —Steve Coulter photo

First Selectman Rudy Marconi delivering the annual Chamber of Commerce state of the town address. —Steve Coulter photo

Despite the winter’s heavy snow that has the town over budget by $200,000, First Selectman Rudy Marconi is optimistic about the future of the town.

“We’re doing pretty well, other than the snow — it had a pretty big impact on us this year,” said Mr. Marconi during his annual state of the town speech at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Friday.

“The revenues are great and there will be an end-of-the-year request with the Board of Finance to adjust the expenses brought on by the snow,” he added. “Everything looks good going forward though —I’m optimistic.”

Mr. Marconi spent a majority of the speech talking about the town’s economics — the reselling of the town’s Schlumberger property, Boehringer Ingelheim’s tax abatement program in the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, and the town’s “robust” fund balance.

He also discussed major capital projects like building a new police station and building a new radio system, and how those projects would affect future budgets as well as the town’s debt service.

A new fire station could be in the works, too, he said.

“No doubt, we’re going to get requests from the Fire Department because whatever the police get, they want to be treated equally,” Mr. Marconi said. “The trucks are in and out of there all day long and I’m sure merchants are tired of hearing sirens all day long.

“We need to look at that and what we’ll do,” he added.

The radio system will cost around $4.2 million, while the new police station is estimated to come in at around $5 million.

Mr. Marconi said that the radio project would be feasible around the 2017 fiscal year, according to a 10-year forecast that the town works on annual.

“A communication system is very important, but this wasn’t the year to do that,” he explained.

The capital items for next year came in at $11.2 million, he said, before being reduced to around $4 million by the Board of Finance.

The address wasn’t all about numbers.

Mr. Marconi talked about three Prospect Street projects — the new library, the Prospector Theater, and the renovation of Ridgefield Supply.

He also discussed the rail trail and the plans to connect it to the bike path at the Rec Center on Danbury Road. He estimated funding for the project will be coming in a year or two.

Also in the works is bringing down the elm trees in front of town hall and remodeling the front of the building.

“When the trees come down, where do we hang the flag?” he asked.

Other developments included the proposed cell tower on Ledges Road, construction on the Bailey Avenue parking lot and a possible traffic light at the intersection leaving the Rec Center on Danbury Road.

“Although it’s not on the books yet, count on it,’ he said about the traffic light.

As for Schlumberger, Mr. Marconi said he expects contractor Steve Zemo to begin construction on his recently purchased five-acre property this year.

The project includes a 48-room hotel, a self-storage building and a multi-use office building that will have 11 apartments on the second floor.

Mr. Zemo bought the property for $1.25 million. Mr. Marconi said it will bring in around $400,000 per year in non-residential taxes.

The other parts of the property — a 10-acre parcel on Sunset Lane and a seven-acre parcel that includes Schlumberger’s main office buildings — are still in the process of being sold.

“The Board of Selectmen have been meeting a lot more than we care to — it’s been very difficult,” he said. “You know what it’s like buying a home and negotiating — try doing that with a huge property and a group of people.

“We’re just trying to do what is the best thing for the people of Ridgefield.”

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