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From the First Selectman – 1/15/16

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a happy and healthy holiday season. As we start the new year, I would like to remind you about some safety measures that could be important in the winter months. If you have not already done so, signing up for CT ALERT will assure that you receive timely information in the case of weather or other emergencies. To register, visit CTAlert.gov. It is also advisable to have important Town and UI phone numbers handy. These were all included in a mailing I sent you last fall and that you can access on the Town’s website (woodbridgect.org) under “Important Links.”

Here at Town Hall, budget preparation for Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017) has begun. My top priority, as always, is to assure the financial health of our Town and to protect the best interests of our taxpayers. This means crafting a budget that provides the outstanding K-12 education and first-rate Town services that residents expect, while closely monitoring and balancing costs to control the impact on our mil rate.

This year our budget task will be especially challenging because we anticipate a significant increase of close to $1M in our share of the Amity Regional School budget. In large part, this is due to a shift in the ratio of student attendance; there are more students from Woodbridge and fewer from Bethany and Orange. Our debt service will also be going up as we begin payment for the Beecher Road School Energy Modernization and Security Enhancements project.

It looks like 2016 will be the year that our Microgrid project comes to fruition. Just last week, the CT Siting Council approved the installation of the fuel cell at Amity High School and United Illuminating expects to begin work in the early spring. As you may recall, the fuel cell will provide power to our Town Center buildings and to the High School in the event of a prolonged power outage. Heat from the power generation will be redirected into the school and help lower utility bills.

Some other initiatives going on at Town Hall include an upgrade to the Town’s website to make it more informative and user friendly and new signs for the Amity district to help “brand” Woodbridge and support our local businesses. On the “green” side, we are adding a second electric vehicle charging station and we are pursuing the solar project on the capped land fill. The solar project is hampered by State limitations on such projects so we are working with our State delegation to find ways to expedite this important initiative. We also await the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Best Outdoor Maintenance and Management Practices for Town-Owned Land that I appointed last fall to help us maximize the benefits of organic practices and provide a welcoming environment for birds, butterflies and bees.

The Wisdom of Woodbridge lecture series that I initiated last year continues on January 19th at 7 PM at the JCC. Woodbridge resident Nancy Yao Maasbach will discuss “Chinatowns, China’s Towns and Chinese Towns: An Evolving Sense of Community.” Ms. Maasbach is the director of the Museum of the Chinese in America and was formerly Executive Director of the Yale-China Association.

To stay up to date on Woodbridge news and events I encourage you to sign up for our email newsletter (sign up at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews) and follow us on Facebook (Facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT). As always, I welcome your ideas and feedback at escalettar@woobridgect.org.

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