BROOKFIELD Voters OK $2.15M plan
BROOKFIELD — Voters narrowly approved a $2.15 million capital improvement plan on Tuesday, nearly three months after residents rejected a previous budget.
Residents voted 815 to 753 in favor of the budget.
The plan calls for borrowing money for various projects, including road paving, truck replacement for various departments, handicap accessible bathrooms at the library and renovations to the boys’ locker room at the high school.
First Selectman Steve Dunn said he was relieved with the results, adding it was a sign residents supported the projects.
“It passed because it’s the right budget,” he said. “There is nothing in there that is even remotely controversial.”
One of the biggest chunks of the plan was for money to pave the roads.
“Everyone wants their roads paved and that would be the first thing to go if it didn’t pass,” Dunn said. “We would have had to slash that a lot.”
Voters initially rejected a $2.6 million plan in a May referendum, but it took almost three months for the town to hold another referendum. Initially, the boards of selectmen and finance had proposed an identical plan, but voters defeated it again at a special town meeting in June.
Residents accepted the revised plan, which eliminated $300,000 for the schools and $110,000 for incident command vehicles for the volunteer fire companies, at a special town meeting on June 21.
The town was then required to wait 45 days before holding the referendum.
Dunn said he would have preferred to hold the referendum next week during the primary elections, but state laws prevent this. He said this could have driven turnout.
“Primaries are the things that get people excited,” Dunn said. Votes on the capital budget don’t get people excited. (But) voting on spending on your own money seems just as important as voting for what candidate you want to have for office.”
Around 1,570 residents voted Tuesday, but the town typically sees around 2,500 voters at similar referendums, Dunn said.
Some of the projects, like upgrades to the Parks and Recreation building, would have already been started had the budget been approved in May.
Dunn said work on this maintenance building likely will begin in the fall or spring. He said the building is falling apart and needs to be connected to the sewer system, as well as get a new roof, windows and doors. This will cost $65,000.
Other projects include replacing the generator at the high school for $350,000, replacing the transfer switch at the high school for $50,000 and a $60,000 time and attendance system for the district. The boys’ locker room at the high school, which officials have said is in very poor condition, will also be renovated for $50,000.
The plan also includes $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 library bathroom handicap accessible.
The library still hopes to earn voter approval for a new, bigger building after residents rejected a $14.7 million plan in February. But officials have said these improvements are needed in the meantime.
The bathrooms are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, while the windows are not energy efficient, officials have said.