Annual Town Meeting considers $1.3 million in projects, purchases

Trucks, trees and mowers, dam and roof repairs, studies of drainage, disabled access, and the future of the police and fire stations  — some $1.3 million in projects and purchases — face judgement by voters at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting.

The annual meeting will also hear presentations on both town and school operating budgets — and people will be able to question officials. But both operating budgets and larger capital expenditures won’t be decided until the budget referendum a week later.

The Annual Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 1, starting at 7:30 in the Ridgefield Playhouse. The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9.

The agenda for the meeting is:

  • Presentation on the $49-million town budget by First Selectman Rudy Marconi;
  • Presentation on $93-million school budget by Superintendent Karen Baldwin and board chairwoman Fran Walton;
  • Town financial overview, by finance board chairman Dave Ulmer;
  • Questions by townspeople and answers from town officials;
  • Voting capital-expenditure requests under $100,000 each, totaling about $1.3 million.

The annual meeting is a tradition that dates back to the town’s early days, and the location in the Playhouse emphasizes its significance and encourages participation.

And Marconi promises to keep the proceedings moving.

“We’re going to do it by department,” he said of the voting. “We’re not going to do votes on individual items. We will be voting on requests from each department as a block.”

If a citizen attending the meeting thought a specific item deserved a separate vote, could they offer a motion to do that?

“That’s up to the moderator,” Marconi said.

Capital items

Here’s a look at the capital items to be voted on.

Highway Department: Lowboy dump truck, $64,697; Double drum vibratory roller, $40,400; Replacement guardrails, $40,000.

Parks and Recreation: Truck (one and a half tons) with plow and sander, $60,120; Scotts Ridge Field artificial turf replacement, $55,000; Playground repairs and replacements, $30,000; Field renovator/combinator, $28,500; Turf tractor, $24,000; Park and field safety improvements, $23,600; ADA compliance (railing and lift for recreation center pool), $21,300; Tennis and basketball court repairs, $20,500; Field conditions, $20,116; Maintenance building floor repairs, $12.075.

Golf course: Fairway mower, $43,600; Turf truckster, $9,200; Tow-behind debris blower, $7,200.

Town engineer: Lake windwing dam repairs, $90,000; East Ridge Middle School roof repairs, $87,000; Tiger Hollow stairway reconstruction, $64,000; Venus Building window replacements, former VNA wing, $53,000; Village storm drainage system study, $45,000; Emergency action plans, several dams, $41,000; Highway building, exterior painting and carpentry, $40,000; Catoonah fire station exterior painting, $9,000.

Tree warden: Replacement trees, $9,000.

Fire department: Catoonah firehouse renovations (bathroom, air conditioning), $85,000; Firefighters’ protective equipment, $44,000; Washer and dryer for turnout gear and hoses, $18,000.

Information technology: Storage area network for long term data retention, $33,400; Datto computer system backup solution, $17,400.

Town (from selectmen): town-wide study of improvements needed to meet Americans with Disability Act requirements, $75,000; Public safety building replacement study (concerning police and fire stations eventual replacement), $65,000.