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BROOKFIELD Referendum on $2.15 million capital plan

August 5, 2018 GMT

BROOKFIELD — Nearly three months after the town defeated a more expensive plan, residents will vote Tuesday on the $2.15 million capital improvement budget.

The town will hold a referendum on the plan, which includes projects such as road paving, handicap-accessible bathrooms at the library and renovations to the boys’ locker room at the high school.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with District I voting at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School and District II voting at Center Elementary School. The latter district normally votes at the high school, but water will be shut off at the building because the tank is being replaced.

“We need to move the town forward,” said First Selectman Steve Dunn, adding it was critical voters approve the plan so the projects can start — some were delayed because the initial budget failed.

Voters initially rejected a $2.6 million plan in the first budget referendum, the day a massive storm knocked out power to nearly all residents, preventing some from going to the polls. The boards of selectmen and finance then proposed an identical plan, which voters again defeated at a special town meeting in June.

This revised plan does not include $300,000 for the schools and $110,000 for incident command vehicles for the volunteer fire companies, which were part of the original budget.

The town is required to hold a special town meeting on its capital budget and then wait 45 days for a referendum, which meant the plan could not be on the second and third referendums on the operating budgets, Dunn said.

The $66.6 million operating budget passed in the third referendum in mid-June.

The biggest chunk of the budget would go toward paving the roads. The town plans to borrow $650,000 for this work and spend $850,000 in cash.

“People are very happy with the shape the roads are in and we want to continue that,” Dunn said.

The town also wants to borrow $15,000 for an engineering study to explore the feasibility of replacing the windows at the library, as well as $23,500 to make the bathroom handicap accessible.

Library officials have not given up on building a new library after voters rejected their proposal in February. But Dunn said the building needs improvements in the meantime.

The single-pane windows are old and not energy efficient, but new ones could pay for themselves in energy savings, Dunn said. Meanwhile, the bathroom is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Also part of the plan is $350,000 to replace the generator at the high school, $60,000 for a time and attendance system for the district, $50,000 to replace the transfer switch at the high school and $50,000 to renovate the boys’ locker room at the high school. The dilapidated locker room is in desperate need of repair, Dunn said.

“That needs to be done,” he said. “You have to have reasonable facilities for our kids to use. Having a clean, usable locker room seems a basic, not a fancy extra.”

The Parks and Recreation Department maintenance building also needs several upgrades, including a new roof, a sewer system connection and door and window replacement. This will cost $65,000.

“The building is about to fall down,” Dunn said. “It’s getting dangerous. It goes to maintaining our infrastructure. We have a lot of expensive equipment in that building and we don’t want to get it destroyed.”

He said this project likely would have already been started had the first referendum been approved.

Dunn said the town has posted on social media and put up signs around town to get out the vote.

“Summer is typically going to have a low voter turnout,” he said. “A lot of people are on vacation. We’re hoping that everyone gets out there.”