Friday, July 30, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: schools - code compliance

Yesterday I provided this overview of the proposed capital budget for the schools, including this spreadsheet regarding "code compliance" issues:Now I offer the explanation for the code compliance issues:And here are some of the pricier details of the code compliance issues:If you read the comments under this post, you'll see some related thoughts from BOE member Tony Perugini.

As for me... I don't see the logic in spending $437,500 for a press box elevator, particularly at a time when Cheshire and the entire nation is losing classroom teachers. But if someone really pushes this, maybe the press box gets moved down to the field?

Tim White

Thursday, July 29, 2010

August 10 primary: Norton School closed

From the MRJs Joe Adinolfi:

The Norton School gym will not be open for the Aug. 10 primaries because of asbestos removal at the school.

Registrar Susan Pappas said that the town has not found a replacement polling station for District No. 4 voters, but that a decision should be made within the next three days.

Pappas said that the town is looking at St. Thomas Becket Church, across the street from Norton at 435 No. Brooksvale Road as a potential option, but is also considering setting up two separate polling stations in the gym at the Doolittle School.

I hope you vote on August 10. And if you're a registered R, I hope you'll be voting for Sam Caligiuri and Peter Schiff.

Tim White

Our 4,000th post

I just realized that this is our 4,000th post on TWL.

Thanks for the support... or opposition! Whatever your viewpoint, having the debate of ideas is best.

And speaking of the 2010 debate of ideas among the GOP candidates for Governor -- Mike Fedele, Tom Foley and Oz Griebel -- does anyone have a preference? I'm still undecided. And besides a few people telling me of their disgust with two of the candidates sniping at each other... the closest thing I've heard to a positive comment about any of them has been this youtube profile of the third candidate.

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: overview of schools

Here is the BOEs proposed capital budget overview:And here is the budget for the BOEs code compliance issues:Here's the roof replacement issues:And here is the big part of the school budget, renovations:I'll provide more details on each of these three parts, including turf, over the next two weeks. The Council / BOE capital budget meeting is set for Wednesday August 11.

Tim White

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: library, PW & public property

Tonight's meeting began with the library. They're requesting $200,000 (+$100k in state & private grant money) for an RFID system (approx. $120,000) and new furniture / interior design work ($180,000).

The project was being billed as a means to alleviate an increasing workload being placed on fewer staff. I said I like the idea as it was explained, but asked for a related operating budget... increased maintenance / equipment costs and decreased staff hours... which I hope would happen through natural attrition.

We then moved onto public works. We discussed town trucks and viewed this one:I noted that the $385,000 request for trucks would go to referendum... and I'm not sure it would pass this year.

Sidewalks got discussed for a while, including an explanation of the time required to negotiate the construction of a sidewalk on Higgins Road -- between Towpath and the linear trail. The question was asked how such sidewalk requests come to be. I offered that this particular stretch of sidewalk was partly my request. I've had several moms mention to me the danger of taking a stroller from Towpath to the linear trail. And it was always a stretch that made me uncomfortable while I'm knocking on doors, so I could easily relate. Anyway, if you're driving Higgins... take notice of where the stonewall sits and consider how you walk that stretch. It's not safe. Plus, it would complete a full loop stretching the trail to N. Brooksvale to Towpath to Higgins. And that would be nice.

And though it wasn't on the agenda... since we have funds for sidewalks and roads, I asked if it would be worthwhile to create a fund for drainage issues. But the PW Director suggested his operating budget is sufficient for covering drainage issues... so now I guess we have enough money to remediate the flooding on North Brooksvale at the end of Avon Boulevard and the perpetually overgrown and clogged culvert between Fawn and Forest... yay! Yeah, right. I don't think so. But I'll continue to push on both fronts.

Last we covered the Town's public properties. As I've been mentioning, I repeated my request that staff give the Council a logical plan of action and timeline to move forward on the Town's RFP for Energy & Envelope issues. Unfortunately, it appears there's really no way to responsibly fast track the RFP process so that it could be sent to referendum for the November ballot. In turn, if we get responses in late September or October (too late for the November ballot)... could the Town wait until November 2011 for a multi-million dollar referendum? Would the contractors hold their price? I doubt it. Or maybe we could hold a special referendum? I'm not sure. Again though, my concern is simply ensuring the timing of this RFP is on the Council's radar... along with making sure the schools are gathering their thoughts in the same manner that I've requested of town staff... just gotta make sure the timing makes sense.

The last interesting discussion point tonight related to the linear trail. It's possible that the Town could use two different grants ($320k & $250k) for any section of the rail trail. So maybe something will happen... though I'm not interested in spending too many property tax dollars on the trail this year.

That's about it. Next capital budget meeting is with the schools in two weeks on August 11. Next Council meeting is on August 10. So probably not much happening for the next two weeks... though I've got lots of capital budget details and thoughts to post.

Thought for the day -- $1,000,000 for open space this November? I like our open space, but I'm not particularly inclined to support it... not in this economy.

Tim White

Some Cheshire house comparisons

Dave Borowy was kind enough to forward me these recent Cheshire housing statistics:Cheshire seems to be doing well in relation to other towns.

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: public works

Here's the TMs proposed capital budget for the PW Department:The first year of the budget includes sidewalks:Public Works vehicles:Blacks Road bridge:and Road Repavement:I know the roads have been generating some discussion, but I'm not getting into that at this moment... though I hope you can attend the PW Capital Budget meeting on Tuesday night and participate in the discussion there.

Tim White

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: library

Here's the TMs proposed capital budget for the library:And here's the rationale for the RFID system:I'm confident that the Budget Chairman, David Schrumm, will be asking about the shrinking staffing levels. Personally, I never want to see layoffs. But we're facing a really tough reality. And I'm comfortable reducing headcount through attrition.

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: public properties

Within the Town's budget, you'll find public properties included in the Finance Department. It's not in the Public Works Department budget. I have no idea why, since the Town's facilities manager reports to the PW Director. Regardless, here's the TMs proposal for public property improvements:And here are some details on the projects proposed for the first year of the capital budget...

Building improvements are here. And FWIW, I've already been pushing to make sure we align these proposed projects with the energy RFP that'll likely be issued in the near future and will potentially cover some of these projects:Underground fuel tank removal:Roof replacements are potentially included as part of the envelope issues that may be addressed in the energy RFP I mentioned above:Senior Center elevator:Backup generators:

I've been pushing to address the Town's energy and envelope issues in a more comprehensive manner for years now. With the energy RFP planned to be issued this month -- with responses by September -- I feel like we're on the cusp of something big. With regard to anything that could be covered under the RFP, I hope we only move forward on urgent issues right now.

Tim White

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Joe Markley was endorsed by Ronald Reagan

Joe Markley is running for the 16th state Senate seat. The 16th district includes parts of Cheshire & Waterbury, as well as all of Southington and Wolcott.

At tonight's Cheshire RTC meeting he offered his story about meeting -- and getting endorsed by -- Ronald Reagan.

Based on Joe's voting record, it's fair to say he understands the need to reign in government spending. I hope he wins in November.

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: linear trail discussion

The NHRs Luther Turmelle offers an article on the proposed linear trail expansion -- found in the second year of the capital budget. And here are the details of the TMs proposal:I'm fine with this sitting in the capital budget as a placeholder. But I don't see this going to referendum next year.

As for where the trail could be expanded... my preference would be to start at the Southington town line and head south. A TWL regular recently told me that Southington has basically reached the Cheshire line.

Tim White

Ron Paul is no longer the lonely R on Afghanistan

The HuffPost put together this five minute clip of 20 Republicans -- pundits and elected officials -- who are openly questioning the value of America's presence in Afghanistan:

America is broke. We're paying for war by borrowing money from China. And both R & D Presidents have left us in the dark when asked about their strategy to win.

Tim White

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: The press on the proposal

The NHRs Luther Turmelle started his reporting on the 2010 / 2011 capital budget yesterday. He continued today with the proposed GIS system. I got to the meeting late last night, but this article did remind me of this brief exchange between Councilman Slocum and the PW Director on July 8, 2008:

And here's the MRJs Joe Adinolfi on last night's meeting.

Tim White

Cheshire Republican Town Committee on July 22

The Cheshire Republican Town Committee; meets tomorrow night. The CRTC meets on the 4th Thursday of every month. It'll be the last meeting prior to the August 10 primary election. While I doubt any of the candidates for the Constitutional offices, US Senate or CT-5 will be there, other candidates will likely be there. We've got two candidates for state Senate (Markley & Suzio), three candidates for state Rep (Abbate, Adinolfi & Brown). But I don't think any of them are facing a primary.

You may get a chance to speak with two Rs though who will be squaring off on August 10: Matt Jalowiec and Peter Bowman. They're vying for Probate Judge. Just a couple days ago I got an email from Matt regarding his challenge to Peter for a Probate debate. But if I read the email correctly, the LOWV has not yet agreed to coordinate it. So I'm not sure if that'll happen, even if Peter agrees... and of course, Peter hands are full this week ... congratulations, Dad!!!

Tim White

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: P&R and roadwork discussion

As I mentioned yesterday, tonight's capital budget meeting included the Parks & Rec Department budget request. But last night's post didn't include the bubble replacement:As I mentioned tonight, I think it's appropriate to include this in the capital budget as a placeholder -- but nothing more than a placeholder. Considering that the bubble will eventually fail, a replacement bubble should be kept on the Council's radar. I don't see myself ever supporting another bubble though.

After the meeting adjourned there was some talk about road work. I took the opportunity to advocate an old request of mine (also see here) that would dramatically reduce the potential for backroom dealing and horsetrading:

using staff's recommendations, the Council should vote to establish the criteria used in prioritizing improvements to roads (along with sidewalks, curbs and perhaps tree trimming)... then the Council should set the budget (subject to voter approval at referendum) and there should be no deviation from those lists unless there is an emergency.

And don't mistake this as a no-brainer. I've already gotten pushback from staff. So if this is to happen, the Council will need to direct staff.

Thankfully, the Planning Committee Chairman (Jimmy Sima) has already put this idea on his agenda. But it's also a budget issue. So I hope that the Budget Committee Chairman (David Schrumm) will also entertain my request.

Tim White

Monday, July 19, 2010

Capital Budget '10/11: Parks & Recreation

Since the Finance and Parks & Rec Departments are both up tomorrow night, I figured I'd give you both tonight... for those of you who are considering attending. As for the details on both the Pool Replacement Bubble and Expansion of Linear Trail, I'm covering only items in the current year capital budget for the most part. But since both of them tend to generate a lot of discussion around town, I'll probably post the TMs details sometime soon... just not tonight.

Anyway, here's the TMs proposal for the Parks & Rec Department's five year budget:Here are the details on Park Improvements:And here are the details on Equipment Replacements:As for the "rule" that capital budget items:

1) cost more than $110,000; and
2) have a life expectancy greater than five years

without researching it, I'm guessing that the TM is proposing these items get covered with the operating budget (not the capital budget) via the Capital Non-Recurring (CNR) account. By using the capital budget's CNR account, we wouldn't bond the money to buy a truck. We'd be paying cash. And that's appropriate IMO.

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: Finance

Here is the TMs capital budget proposal for the Finance Department:And below are the items in the first year of the capital budget proposal. The "first year" is when money gets spent. The "five year" budget is basically a placeholder / reminder about upcoming proposals, but it does not require any cash outlays.

Here is the reasoning for the GIS system:
And here's the reasoning for the capital planning account:Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: meeting schedule

Here are the meetings currently scheduled by the Budget Chairman, David Schrumm:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Parks and Recreation

Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Public Works, Public Property

Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Water Pollution Control Department
Economic Development
Senior Services

Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
Public Hearing
Recap (immediately following the Public Hearing)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 7:30 p.m.
adoption of budget

Tim White

Capital Budget '10/11: overview & CNR vs bonding

Here's the overview of the current year and five year capital budget that has been proposed by the TM:I'll provide the details of the budget over the next few weeks.

And below is the breakdown on which items would likely be funded thru the operating budget (CNR or Capital Non-Recurring) vs. the capital budget (bonded with ten or 20 year bonds). The CNR budget is here:The CNR budget is typically in the range of $1.0 to $1.5 million dollars. It is one part (of five parts) of the town's nearly $100 million operating budget. The other four parts are: general government, schools, debt & contingency.

The bonding budget is here:A couple of points:

1) As you can see, the $30 million sewer plant upgrade is not in Year One. If that holds, then it won't be a referendum question this year.

2) The Townwide Energy Conservation Plan is not included in the capital budget. Yet it may require a referendum this fall if we get useful responses for
the suggested RFP deadline. So if the Council wants to move forward on energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements at the Town Hall, PD, CHS & Dodd... then we'll need to incorporate this as part of the capital budget discussions. This would also impact the 2012 / 2013 capital budget. That's where the CHS eletric retrofit and air conditioning project landed after last year's deferral.

3) The turf is in the school part of the capital budget.

More details to come... but figured this is a good starting point for discussion.

Tim White

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Open forum - July 16, 2010

It's been a crazy week for me... didn't even get to the Council meeting -- for which I apologize -- but beyond work I've had some personal stuff to which I had to attend. Anyway...

The MRJs Joe Adinolfi is reporting that the Police Chief search will include candidates outside the department:

"In order to ensure that I have the best, most qualified person for the position, it makes sense to open it up," Milone said.

I agree and have encouraged the TM to do this.

Also in relation to the search, I understand that the TMs candidate search team will include two former Council Chairs -- one R and one D.

And for those of you who are unaware of the TMs typical search process for a department head... in recent years he's assembled a team of similar department heads from area towns and asked them to help winnow down the field. Then the TM makes the choice from the final three candidates.

As for other stuff...

I was recently surprised when I was told by a local Republican that we ought to get out of Afghanistan and station our troops on our southern border. Personally, I don't understand why we're in Afghanistan at this point. It's not as though we're ever going to "win." And we can only maintain our presence there by running up our Chinese credit card.

And there was a debate for the GOP nomination for Governor last night. I didn't see it, but do intend to learn more about the candidates. At this point though, I'd still prefer to see a Dan Malloy (D) vs. Oz Griebel (R) matchup.

Doubt I'll be posting this weekend, but intend to post more often in the next week or two.

Anything else happening?

Tim White

Monday, July 12, 2010

Helping the people of Haiti

It's been six months, but I haven't lost my interest in helping the people of Haiti.

With my fruitless effort to help in Honduras in 1998, I learned my lesson. I knew if I flew down to Haiti in January or February, I probably would've been more trouble than help.

But some time has passed and the immediate crisis situation is gone. So I thinking I'm going to investigate my options again. And if you are -- or someone you know is -- interested, here are some volunteer and paid opportunities in Haiti.

Tim White

What happens with confiscated drug bust money?

Although I don't think it's the smartest thing to do, I don't think smoking marijuana should be a crime. Regardless, the law is the law. And Cheshire's Finest does their job well.

Here's a brief memo explaining what happened with the money confiscated in one particular drug bust:

Tim White

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The looming internal GOP struggle over war policy

RNC Chairman Michael Steele is not alone. And forget about Ron Paul.

Even Ann Coulter is questioning American war policy.

In this two minute clip, Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan discuss the coming internal battle of the GOP. Pat says that Republicans -- sans Ron Paul -- will remain united behind Obama's war policy through November 2010. But come the Spring of 2011 and the GOP primary for President... Republicans will begin openly questioning the neocon agenda that seems to want to wage war in every corner of the globe:

As for me, I still don't see how one argues that deficits are a problem... yet ignore the entitlement programs and defense budget.

Tim White

Council meeting agenda - July 13, 2010

Here's the agenda for Tuesday's Council meeting:

I'm glad to see Council Chair Slocum asking the Ordinance Review Committee (Chaired by Anne Giddings) to look at the Town's pension plans. I have hope that the union contract still in negotiations (Town Hall, Public Works & Library) will eliminate Defined Benefit Pension Plans for future union hires.

A year ago the Council eliminated DB plans for future non-union hires.

Tim White

Thursday, July 08, 2010

August 10: Candidates for Governor & LG

In November, we'll be voting for a ticket of Governor and Lieutenant Governor... and casting only one vote. But in August, you'll get two votes: one for Governor and one for LG. So here are the websites and FB pages (mostly the "politician" pages, not their "friend" pages) for everyone I know to be running for Governor on August 10:

The Oz for Governor website and Oz Griebel's FB page

Fedele 2010 website and Michael Fedele's FB page

Tom Foley 2010 website and Tom Foley's FB page

Dan Malloy website and Dan Malloy's FB page

Ned Lamont website and Ned Lamont's FB page

And the candidates running for LG are online @:

Mary Glassman's website and Mary Glassman's FB page

Nancy Wyman's website and Nancy Wyman's FB page

Mark Boughton's website and Mark Boughton's FB page

Is there anyone else running for either Guv or LG? I think one of the smaller CT towns has a First Selectman running for Governor without either of the two major parties. But his name escapes me.

I'll probably try to do this for all the other candidates that'll be on the Cheshire ballot, but not tonight.

And speaking of the state's highest office, Jodi Rell visited Lock 12 this week.

Tim White

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ron Paul on Michael Steele, the oil spill & his son

Ron Paul continues to get national media coverage:

I can't help wonder if I'll be back knocking on doors in New Hampshire in late 2011.... Ron Paul r3VOLution!!!

Tim White

MJIs Powell on Dan Malloy's run for Governor

The MJIs Chris Powell explains why Dan Malloy probably won't get the Dem nomination, but probably would make a good Governor:

As he is a Democrat and public employee unions are the party's biggest constituency, Malloy can't express the slightest doubt about Connecticut's system of binding arbitration of public employee union contracts, which takes the great bulk of public expense out of the ordinary democratic process and makes it illegal for government to control most of its costs. But Lamont, with no record in office, seems to be getting union endorsements because Malloy, negotiating contracts as Stamford's mayor, was not easily rolled. That is, Lamont is expected to put up less of a fight on behalf of the public.

Malloy acknowledges that urban policy has failed generally throughout the state, which is unusual for a Democrat to do, even if Stamford may have benefited most from state government subsidies for business relocations and has a big advantage over Connecticut's other cities, its proximity to New York. Malloy also seems inclined to acknowledge the failure of drug policy, which also is unusual given his experience as a prosecutor in New York City. At least he would reduce criminal liability for marijuana possession.

Personally, I think he gets it. I think he'd be fair. I think he'd be an adult.

I'd vote for him on August 10, if I could.

Tim White

Communications Center meeting

As previously mentioned, the Council visited a regional communications center tonight. Andy, Anne, Jimmy, Justin, Tom and I were there... along with the TM and two Chiefs (PD & FD).

I now understand that the driving force behind the meeting is possible state legislation that would require CT municipalities to regionalize. The background on the legislation is that it would require municipalities to participate in regional dispatch services that cover no fewer than three towns. And since it made it all the way to the Governor's desk -- where Jodi vetoed it -- it's possible that this mandate may come to pass in the not-so-distant future. So it's worthwhile for the Town to look at the two likely options:

1) outsource it to the regional dispatch services located in Prospect; or

2) insource other towns that would use Cheshire's dispatch services.

Either way, the Council Planning Committee's Chairman Jimmy Sima wants to be prepared.

The most notable piece of info I took from the discussion was that the Prospect-based dispatch services don't handle police. Instead they handle EMS and Fire. But that could quickly change, depending on new legislation. For me, that's a big issue because I think it makes sense to handle all emergency services together... whoever handles them.

Also, when you count all calls... Cheshire's dispatch services handle about 40,000 calls per year... everything from violent crimes to a cat "stuck" in a tree.

Tim White

Some upcoming events / fundraisers

1) In his honor, the Greg Schena Scholarship Fund has been created. Though I'm confident the proceeds will go to a worthy cause, I'm not sure what it is at this point. But in the meantime, if you're interested you can write a check to:

Greg Schena Scholarship Fund

And mail it to:

C/O Cheshire High School
525 South Main St.
Cheshire, CT 06410

Or you can go to a fundraiser on Friday night, July 16 at the Wicked Wolf in New Haven.

2) Joe Markley -- running as the GOP candidate for Sam Caligiuri's Senate seat -- will be holding an event next week:

Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010
Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: 659 Cornwall Avenue, Cheshire

3) And last, but not least, Sam Caligiuri will be holding an event this week:

Thursday, July 8
5:30pm to 7pm
@ Cheshire Park

Haven't found an FB page for that one yet.

Tim White

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Visiting the Communications Center in Prospect

In an effort to save money, some people have asked about "regionalizing" services. In consideration of this, the Council Planning Committee's Chairman, Jimmy Sima, has scheduled a visit to a regional dispatch center.

7:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2010

Site visit to:
Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center
28 Cheshire Road, Prospect, CT 06712

I'm open to hearing more about this. But at this point, I'm leaning against it. Not controlling this service -- including basic critical skills, such as pronunciation of street names -- is a concern for me. And FWIW, I've gotten feedback from several Council members on this. I think it's fair to say that everyone wants to save money, where possible. But everyone is also concerned about maintaining quality emergency services.

Tim White

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Kurtz Farms fireworks and other area displays

Area fireworks displays for Independence Day 2010 include Kurtz Farms on Saturday night.

And if you don't know all the lyrics... I certainly don't...

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I hope you and your family have a good Independence Day!

Tim White