Jim Marpe and Nina Daniel
Mr. Marpe began by thanking all the Y’s Men for their community service over the years.
He reported that things are good in Westport. There are a lot of new businesses including a number of new restaurants. He also stated that a significant number of empty nesters are moving into town.
Financially, the town continues to enjoy a triple A rating. Adding to Westport’s financial health the town Grand List experienced a 1.2% real growth. The education budget grew at a very modest .97% and the budget for the town grew at an even more modest .57%. The net result of these factors allowed the town’s new mill rate to decrease by .83%.
On the other side of the ledger, the town will receive approximately one million dollars less from the state than in prior years with further declines in state contributions anticipated. To help weather these declines in state aid the town is exploring ways to further reduce its budget. One such avenue is a new program that is anticipated to reduce the towns energy costs by five to ten million dollars.
The town continues to pursue initiatives geared towards its senior citizens. Mr. Marpe emphasized that the town is still looking for senior housing opportunities, increases in the tax abatement structure for seniors and senior focused activities on the Baron’s South property.
The new head of the Parks and Recreation Commission again emphasized that improvements were in process for the senior center as well as for the Baron’s South property. She also stated that work was going forward on the master plan for Compo Beach and the Longshore facility.
Ms Daniel stressed the importance of taxation for Connecticut and Weston. She pointed out that people are leaving Connecticut far in excess of those coming into the state. This results in a smaller tax base to draw from, but the state’s spending remains unabated. The state’s economic growth has remained stagnant for six years.
Ms Daniel reminded the Y’s Men that Weston’s tax base is residential. This forces Weston to constantly seek more economic ways to do things to prevent the Weston taxes from rising to the point where they force people to leave.
This year Weston has managed to reduce its mill rate by .38%.
Ms Daniel noted the importance of retaining and attracting retirees for their contribution to the town. But these people have to pay in more money in taxes than they receive in benefits so keeping them is a challenge.
Q. Is there any chance for three tier housing in Westport?
A. There are some private developers with proposals that may address this need.
Q. Is it possible to change Main Street to a pedestrian mall?
A. It is talked about from time to time. The issue is traffic flow. Church Street may be converted into a shared space.
Q. Can reassessment be done in a more cost effective manner?
A. I’m not going to revisit re-evaluation now, but there is very little push-back on our re-evaluations.
Q. Any comment on the possibility of more Weston senior housing?
A. There are enormous tax benefits to having more seniors, but I have no authority over the housing situation. Still, I consider it very important and support it in any way I can.
Q. Why is Longshore rented out and closed to the public from time to time?
A. I am not familiar with that, but will look into it.
Q. Are there efforts to combine town responsibilities between the two towns to reduce expenses?
A. Yes. We have done some of that and are always looking for new opportunities.
Q. Can’t the recreational fees be the same for Westport and Weston residents as they once were?
A. I will bring that to the attention of the policy makers.
Q. Can’t the two towns be combined to reduce costs?
A. As we said before, we are always looking for ways to save money, but we are not yet at the point of taking that step.