The town’s Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Brady Auditorium at Amity Regional High School. The town’s registrars of voters, Anna Dickerson and Pennel Hamilton, will check people in at the door.
The preliminary budget hearing was held April 18 in the firehouse, with the bays kept open, but the weather was not conducive. “It was freezing,” said First Selectman Beth Heller, who presented her “State of the Town” remarks wearing gloves and hat, and a heavy winter coat.
With Covid numbers back on the rise, town leaders were reluctant to use the Center gym, where the meeting has been traditionally held. It is not appropriately ventilated. Plans are being made to use American Rescue Plan funds to upgrade the air handling system in the Center building, which would allow the town to return to the gym for future town meetings.
That’s why the decision was made to use the Amity Auditorium. “They had the shows there in April and everybody did fine,” Heller said. At first, they thought of using the high school gym, but the school was concerned about setting up chairs on the gym floor.
Dickerson said they are testing electronic poll books during the Amity budget referendum to see if they can speed up the admission process. Since the Amity referendum is typically slow, with few voters, it will give them a good chance to test the new equipment, along with the paper checker book.
She said the registrars may ask some election poll workers to help with the counting during the annual meeting.
Last year, the meeting was held at the firehouse, after an attempt to conduct it electronically failed, and the decision was made to continue the meeting in person. Attendance at the firehouse did reach the quorum of 250, but with people walking in and out, it was difficult to keep track of, and count. To make changes to the budget the quorum must be met. If there are not enough people in attendance, the Board of Finance will vote on the budget it submitted to the town.
Heller has repeatedly encouraged people throughout the year to voice their concerns early and participate in the process. At the preliminary meeting there were some specific questions regarding the budget, for instance about the scale at the Transfer Station and what the Selectmen’s budget entails. Board of Finance Chairman Matt Giglietti, at the April 21 Board meeting, requested that people direct their questions to the Director of Finance ahead of time.
According to the budget overview on the town’s website, the proposed 2022-23 budget is for $53,824,129, an increase of $2,2 million or 4.38% over this year’s budget. If approved, the town’s budget will increase by 2.42% to $20.2 million; the Woodbridge Board of Education budget will increase by 5.51% to $16.4 million, and the Woodbridge portion of the Amity budget will increase by 5.66% to $17.1 million.
The mill rate for real estate and personal property will be set at 43.49, an increase of 1.99% from this year’s mill rate of 42.64.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent