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From the First Selectman July 31, 2020

Summer is certainly moving along quickly!  Town Hall, although still closed to the public, continues to provide excellent service to folks from a distance, keeping both residents and staff safe.  Human Services, the Library and Recreation have teamed up to provide socially distanced outdoor programming underneath tents on the Library lawn.  Details can be found on the Town website (woodbridgect.org).

I encourage you to pay your taxes by mail or online, however for those of you who prefer to pay in person, there is a walk-up window in front of Town Hall, available from 9 am to Noon and 1 to 3 pm.  Masks are required.  As a reminder, taxes are due by Monday August 3, 2020.

At our most recent Board of Selectmen meeting on July 8th, the Board voted to extend the current agreement between the Amity Woodbridge Historical Society and the Town of Woodbridge through 2030.  Due to this change, it is expected that the State will grant the Society a $45,000 grant.  I believe that the new agreement and the new Thomas Darling House Advisory Committee, working together, will be a new beginning to continue the wonderful work of the Society, and also provide a future plan for this historic Town treasure.

Just recently the Town of Woodbridge received a credit opinion from Moody’s Investor Services.  The Town continues to be rated as Aaa, and the report says that Woodbridge “benefits from a stable financial position, supported by reliable property tax revenues, conservative budgeting and low fixed costs.  The Town’s tax base is somewhat limited, but resident income and wealth levels are very strong.  Long-term liabilities are manageable.”  We thank both our Finance Director Tony Genovese and our Board of Finance members for their expert, thoughtful contributions to keeping our taxes low (even reducing them this year), and their vigilance and diligence as we go through our town budget process every year.

However, we are all aware of our “somewhat limited” tax base.  That’s why I recently announced the 2030 Task Force which will work on ways to grow and diversify our Grand List and make sure our Town remains fiscally stable.  There are a lot of good ideas – some are already in the works – that I’d like the 2030 Task Force to take a look at.  I think we need a comprehensive, big picture plan for how to move forward into the next decade.  We also need to continue to seek ways to become more attractive to new businesses, help our current businesses grow and succeed, and diversify our housing stock.  I envision this committee recommending new policies, possibly making recommendations to our zoning regulations, a marketing campaign, capital infrastructure and other ideas that they might think would help our Town grow the tax base.

Members include Chris Dickerson, who is a local business owner and former member of the Board of Selectmen; current Board of Finance member Susan Jacobs; Rob Klee, current Chairman of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission; Garett Luciani, who is a vice president at People’s United Bank in Woodbridge and former Woodbridge of Education member; and current Chairman of the Economic Development Commission Jeremy Rosner.

I am also working to create a committee to examine Equity and Diversity in Woodbridge.  Following last month’s Black Lives Matters rally and walk, I was moved to action to look at ways to make Woodbridge a more welcoming, equitable and diverse town.  I hope to announce the membership of that group at the Board of Selectmen’s August meeting.

The Recreation Department has opened our playgrounds, playing fields and tennis courts.  The dog park is open as well.  Please be sure to ALWAYS wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart from others.  Our facilities are not cleaned or sanitized so remember you are using them at your own risk.  Our Recreation Department is also offering a few in-person, socially distant sport “camps” this summer, as well as several online options.  Human Services is providing televised exercise classes, a memoir writing project and virtual musical bingo.  The Library is providing services both online and via its curbside drop off and pickup.

Despite the pandemic (or perhaps due to it), you have probably noticed that homes are selling very quickly now and you may have new neighbors.  If so, please share with them the Town’s online welcome packet.  It can be found on the Town’s website (woodbridgect.org) under the “Community” section.  Please also be sure to sign up for the Town’s enewsletter and share the link with others:  tinyurl.com/Woodbridgeenewsletter.

All board and commission meetings continue to be held virtually.  The Town calendar (woodbridgect.org/calendar) lists all the upcoming board and commission meetings and meeting agendas.  On each agenda is an explanation as to how to participate virtually in a meeting – either via a link or by watching on WGATV channel 79 or YouTube.

Despite the very positive news that the pandemic seems to be subsiding in Connecticut, I urge you to continue to remain cautious.  Please continue to stay home as much as possible, wear your mask and wash your hands frequently, especially if you are in the over 65 population and/or vulnerable for other health reasons.  My goal has been, and will continue to be, to keep Woodbridge safe!

As always, my door is virtually open to you.  If you need to reach me, please call 203-389-3401 or email me at bheller@woodbridgect.org.

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