Finance board approves $75k transfer to support Battle of Ridgefield commemoration

RIDGEFIELD — The Board of Finance has unanimously approved a hefty transfer to support the upcoming Battle of Ridgefield commemoration.

At a special meeting last week, members voted 5-0 to transfer $75,000 out of the town’s health insurance line “to support the whole thing,” Chairman Dave Ulmer said.

The town will commemorate the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield next weekend with a live reenactment by the 5th Connecticut Regiment, a gala at Lounsbury House and a ceremonial funeral procession honoring the discovery of skeletal remains believed to belong to four soldiers who fought in the engagement.

Last month, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 to find an additional $11,000 to cover event costs, either from the town’s health insurance line or the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement Ridgefield recouped from Tropical Storm Isaias.

At that meeting, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the finance board could take some money out of health insurance “without impacting the year-end.”

In an earlier interview, he said half of the town’s total $200,000 FEMA reimbursement had been sent to the finance board to address trees and cemeteries. Since Ridgefield used money from the general fund to pay for costs it incurred during Tropical Storm Isaias — such as tree removal and department overtime — it would’ve “theoretically had ... a surplus” had the storm not come to pass, Marconi said.

Selectwoman Barbara Manners cast the sole dissenting vote, noting the money to cover event costs should’ve been found through fundraising.

The finance board opted to transfer the money from an expense account (health insurance) rather than a revenue account (FEMA), Ulmer said.

“They had suggested we do either/or so we chose the expense piece,” he added. “In essence it all comes out of the same pie, (but it’s) a little cleaner this way.”

The weekend-long event was budgeted for $57,000, Marconi said in an earlier interview, but more money was needed to pay for a pair of horse-and-buggies, portable toilets and unforeseen ancillary costs.

The former will be used to transport period-era coffins to Old Town Cemetery on Sunday, May 1, as part of the funeral procession for the skeletons. The bones, which have been the talk of the town in recent years, were found by construction workers who were renovating the basement of an early 18th-century home in Ridgefield in late 2019.

New details about the remains will be shared with the public during a panel on Friday, April 29. Those interested in attending can register at ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com