NORTH STONINGTON — Three separate measures passed unanimously at town meeting Monday night that will have positive financial ramifications for the community through the acceptance of state grant funding or the returning of money to the undesignated fund.
Each of the measures were approved handily at the somewhat scarcely attended meeting that drew less than two dozen voters. The measures approved allow the town to submit an updated five-year capital improvement plan to the state to receive LoCIP funding, defunding two completed projects and returning approximately $95,000 to the undesignated fund, and accepting a reimbursement grant that will bring $395,603 in state funding to pay for road work.
First Selectman Robert Carlson said the meeting was one of the easier the town has had because there were no negative impacts to budget or taxes, but that it was necessary under the town meeting form of government in order to conduct business.
“Everything we talked about tonight is all about the town getting money or putting money back. In all honesty, this is probably the easiest town meeting we have had in a long, long time,” Carlson said.
The first measure approved allowed for the town to send an amended five-year plan to the state representing plans for use of money allocated through Connecticut’s Local Capital Improvement Project program, or LoCIP. Carlson and Christine Dias, administration and finance officer in North Stonington, each said the annual amendment is a necessary part of the process in order to secure the funding.
Carlson said that historically the town has used LoCIP money for road improvements, with the community receiving anywhere from $48,000 to $49,000 from the state annually. The approved timeline, as presented, calls for the repair of Mill Village Pentway in fiscal year 2023, line striping in 2024, Lantern Hill Road resurfacing in 2025, Ella Wheeler Road resurfacing in 2026, and Babcock Road resurfacing in 2027.
The Small Town Economic Assistance Program, or STEAP, was also approved unanimously Tuesday and will inject an additional $395,603 into a parking lot repaving and road repairs across the community in the coming year.
“On this one, there is a 20% match, but given our circumstances as a community we have money in the budget already assigned to road work, so we are able to use that to meet the requirement,” Carlson explained. “We had applied and were lucky enough to get it, so that will be paid for from the undesignated fund and reimbursed by the state.”
Under the conditions of the grant, the town will need to commit just under $80,000 to road repairs, well below what was allocated for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The final measure approved Monday was a motion to return $95,925.57 to the undesignated fund by defunding the Boombridge Road repair project and the capital fund software purchase. With the return, there will be approximately $2.2 million in the undesignated fund, which falls within the town’s recommended fiscal policy.
Both projects have ended and the funds represent an excess balance that is no longer needed. The Boombridge funds simply represent a return of unused money, $55,973.49, but the return of financial software funding, $39,952.06, marks a formal end to an unsuccessful attempt to bring the town and school system together in using the same software, Infinite Visions.
“We started doing the training and found that on the town’s side, it just wasn’t doing the things we had hoped for or were promised it would do. I talked to surrounding towns that use it, and those towns said it has been great for the schools, but not so great on the town side,” Carlson said. “We decided to stop where we were, and return to what we were using. We just didn’t want to throw any more money at something that was not going to work for the town.”
Carlson and Selectman Brett Mastroianni each said the money will now need to be reallocated through the town’s allocation process, which includes approval from the Board of Finance, as well as at town meeting if the expenditure exceeds $20,000.