Stonington Borough backs town’s move to Ledge Light Health District

Stonington Borough backs town’s move to Ledge Light Health District


STONINGTON — The Borough’s Board of Warden and Burgesses unanimously approved the town’s proposal to join the Ledge Light Health District Monday night, making the partnership official on May 1.

The proposal, which a small group of residents approved during a townwide meeting last week, could save the town about $50,000 annually.

Although the town will not have its own sanitation and health department, the district will have a satellite office with two employees in Town Hall and the town will also get three members on the board of Ledge Light, which should position Stonington to assist in the management of the district, First Selectman Rob Simmons said.

“Both the borough and town were unanimous in wanting to work with this organization to guarantee that restaurants, business and citizens get the best services,” he said. “There’s still quite a bit of work to be done between now and May 1, but we want the transition to be as seamless as possible.”

Simmons brought up the idea again last month after town sanitarian Karen Weiss and health director Dr. Michael Blefeld announced they will both be leaving their long-held posts in May, just before the area’s busy tourist season.

“We have 150 food service establishments in town and we need to make sure they meet all the sanitation standards before the start of our season,” Simmons said when he first brought the proposal before the Board of Selectmen. “It’s very important that there is no break in services.”

Borough Warden Jeff Callahan said he thinks the move will benefit both the town and borough in the long run.

“When you look at the numbers and consider the breadth of staff experience at Ledge Light, it just seems to make total sense,” he said.

The proposal forwarded by Steven Mansfield, director of health for the district, includes several incentives to ease the transition. Since the town is joining before the end of the current fiscal year, the district said the state will give the district $1.85 per capita for Stonington being a part of the district for any portion of fiscal 2016-17. Because of this, the district’s board agreed, it would split the $30,000 contribution from the Connecticut Department of Public Health 50/50 to help the town offset any transition costs. Although the permitting fees will likely go up with a move to Ledge Light, the district has also offered to waive all such fees through May 2018.

The towns of Groton, Ledyard, New London, Waterford, East Lyme and Old Lyme are also a part of the district, which provides a full range of services to its member towns. Aside from the daily tasks that the sanitarian and director of health currently perform, such as restaurant and septic inspections, Ledge Light officials have said they will carry out additional tasks and provide resources to residents in many areas related to personal and community health and protection of the environment.

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