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Selectmen Discuss No-Increase Budget, Library, Act on Cell Towers

Suffield's selectmen discussed a zero-increase budget, revenue from mobile phone towers in town and the reopening of Kent Memorial Library.

The Suffield Board of Selectmen authorized First Selectman Ed McAnaney to sign a phone tower contract extension favorable to the town, gave an update on the budget process and discussed the revised opening date of at its meeting Wednesday night.

The extension of the contract with Crown Castle International for the lease of three mobile phone towers in Suffield pays the town $150,000, $50,000 per tower, in the short term.

The extension, which calls for five four-year terms, also raises the percentage of yearly income the town receives from the lease. Suffield will receive 35 percent of the revenue Crown Castle gets from the use of the towers by mobile phone companies, up from the 25 percent provided in the previous contract.

Discussion of the budget process for the coming fiscal year was also conducted, with McAnaney reiterating his goal of no budget increases for the town.

The municipal portion of the budget, which excludes the Board of Education’s budget, presented at Wednesday’s meeting is larger by approximately $219,000 (1.6 percent) than the budget from the current fiscal year, $13,253,210.

“My goal is to get this [budget] to a zero-increase,” McAnaney said.

McAnaney noted that much of the budget is still in flux that there are still decreases to be found. He pointed out a few reductions so recent that they didn’t appear on the one-page budget summary presented to the selectmen, including the removal of redundant funds stemming from the police department and school system both budgeting for the same school resource officer.

The Suffield Board of Education budget came in at a 1.6 percent increase but McAnaney said he wants that board to have a zero-increase budget as well. The Suffield Board of Finance has final authority over the budget. That finance board can cut the overall amount of funds the Suffield Board of Education requests but cannot cut individual line items from the educational budget.

A new time for the opening of Kent Memorial Library was also announced, with the goal set at the third week of April. The project has dragged on and suffered delays, with the original opening date, approximated as late December or early January, long past.

Sami Mehmed Jr March 22, 2012 at 11:48 AM
The town of Suffield has survived without a full functioning library for how long? Is it possible that the town of Suffield could survive without a full functioning library forever and experience a substantial recurring cost savings? While on the subject of town services / buildings, does anyone have an update on the status on the Bridge Street School building, (suggestions solicited and evaluated but no feedback to the town to the best of my knowledge). Relative to the budget, the direction, namely too eliminate or find simple reductions with minimum impact on services is welcome.
Perry Robbin March 22, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Sami, the town is moving along in the process of selling the Bridge Street School building. I believe (but am not sure) that RFPs will be solicited soon.
Sami Mehmed Jr March 22, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Perry, thanks for the feedback. However since the town has received preliminary suggestions from interested parties after requesting preliminary suggestions on usage, I haven't heard anything nor have I seen anything published. Don't town citizens deserve to know the contents of the request for quotes, rfq? Oh! Selling Bridge Street School in my opinion is sound policy financially and otherwise. The issue I have is communication / keeping all town citizens aware and knowledgeable which is also sound policy that appears NOT to be the normal. Any additional RFQ info would sincerely be appreciated.

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