It’s been a while since my last message so I thought I would bring you up to date on some of what’s going on at Town Hall. (as of 5/15/2020)
Governor Lamont has issued multiple executive orders to facilitate lessening the spread of COVID-19. Many of these affects how we do business in the state in ways we would have never thought of, just 3 months ago.
One of the most significant is E. O. 7I Section 13 which requires the Board of Selectmen to authorize the budgeting authority to adopt a budget and set a mill rate for the coming year. For Goshen the budgeting authority is our Board of Finance. As a result of that order, the Board of Finance has tentatively approved a budget pending public input. That process started with a budget hearing Wednesday evening, much like past years, except it was done via Zoom on-line meetings. Town’s people will also have the opportunity to review the budget which is on the home page of our web site, and comment in writing by emailing to email@example.com or by mail at 42A North Street, Goshen CT 06756. Comments will need to be received until Wednesday the 20th at noon. The Board of Finance will have a meeting via zoom at 7:30 on the 20th to consider public comment and to make any adjustments in the budget as a result of those comments. Then on the 27th they will meet again, via zoom, to adopt the budget and set a mill rate.
This year, because of the economic conditions, the Board of Finance is committed to keeping the current 19.6 mill rate. This is a bit of a tall order given our Region 6 assessment will be going up by $305,125. After discussion and input from the Board of Selectmen, it has been decided that the best way to keep the current mill rate would be to not adopt a capital spending plan for next year, a savings of $801,160.
This will allow the savings to stay in our unassigned fund balance with the potential of adopting a capital budget at a later date when town’s people can vote on the appropriation.
So, if you haven’t already, please review the 2020-2021 budget proposal and let the Board of Finance know what you think.
First, I want to thank everyone for their patience during this difficult time, and update you on what’s happening at Town Hall.
We now have had several meetings electronically; either by ZOOM online or conference call. There’s been a few hiccups but for the most part it’s working out and we continue to conduct business. Meeting minutes as well as recording are being posted on our web site for anyone interested.
It’s now budget season and our process for adopting budgets, both school and town have changed given we can’t have Town or District meetings. That means both the Board of Finance and the Board of Education will adopt their own budgets after getting input from the town’s people. This will be via electronic means, just like our board and commission meetings. As we navigate this process it’s more important than ever that residents attend the meetings electronically to make your voices heard.
I have reached out to our Superintendent, Chris Leone and ask that the Region 6 budget not increase for this coming year, given the economic uncertainty we face. With our Board of Finance, the Board of Selectmen asked them to not increase the mill rate even though we face an increase of $553,251 in our assessment for Region 6, without the school budget increasing, due to changes in our student population. Adjustments will need to be made in what we allocate for capital projects, large purchases, such as trucks and equipment will need to be cut back to make ends meet
This past Sunday the Board of Selectmen met to institute a spending freeze. Given the uncertainty many have with their employment, we need to persevere town funds in case tax payers are unable to make their tax payments. Fortunately, we have a good fund balance or rainy-day fund, we just need to be wise about what we spend.
Some of our neighbors have summer homes here in Goshen, many come from the NY metro region. For those of you who do, I ask that you adhere to the recommendations of health officials and quarantine yourselves for 14 days once you arrive. Goshen’s emergency services are all volunteer and their numbers are limited. Everyone needs to do their part to see that they don’t get overwhelmed. Without them, there is no ambulance service in Goshen. The reason Goshen is great is because we care about our neighbors and we watch out for them.
On the lighter side, we have decided to ask everyone to ring a bell at 8:00 pm starting today and every Friday as a way of showing our community spirit. We are in the beginning of a marathon, if we look after each other as we so often do, we will get through this, together.
COVID19 PREVENTATIVE MEASURES & IMPLEMENTATION PROCEDURES:
TOWN PLAN FOR LIMITED GENERAL PUBLIC INTERACTION *EFFECTIVE 3/19/2020*
Due to the COVID19 preventative measures implemented by the Town of Goshen, which includes the closure of the Town Hall & Library building to the public, each department has procedural & processing changes until further notice.
We thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation.
THE MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS ARE OPEN TO STAFF ONLY.
DEPARTMENTS CAN MEET WITH RESIDENTS & COMMUNITY MEMBERS
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE OUR STAFF THAT ALL COMMUNICATION TO THE PUBLIC & BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS BE DONE ELECTRONICALLY, BY PHONE OR BY MAIL.
PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL TO SCHEDULE DATE & TIME.
TO OBTAIN A BURNING PERMIT PLEASE CALL FISCAL OFFICE 860-491-2308 EXT. 228.
TO OBTAIN A LAND USE PERMIT OR BUILDING PERMIT GO TO THE LINK BELOW https://www.goshenct.gov/inland-wetlands-zoning-enforcement-officer/pages/land-use-online-permitting-system-guidelines
Each department is requesting that appointments be made for department specific business that requires direct interaction with staff. This includes but not limited to: applications, payments, required supporting documents (copies of driver’s license, training certificates, plans, checks, etc.)
Below is a list of each department with contact information.
FIRST SELECTMAN OFFICE
860-491-2308 EXT. 221
860-491-2308 EXT. 228
ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER
860-491-2308 EXT. 231
PUBLIC WORKS SUPERVISOR
LAND USE OFFICE
REGISTRARS OF VOTERS
860-491-2308 EXT. 236
Message from First Selectman Bob Valentine
Over the past days and weeks, the information available and our knowledge of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has increased almost daily.
As you most likely know, this past Tuesday, Governor Lamont declared a Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergency. In that declaration, he asked each municipality in the state to “follow previously issued guidance and apply relevant principles of risk management to decisions about whether to cancel, modify, or postpone large gatherings, public events, or travel.”
His purpose for limiting such gatherings is to slow the community spread of COVID- 19. Community spread is when the virus spreads person to person at gatherings and face to face meetings. Limiting the spread is not intended to eliminate COVID-19 but to slow its progression within a community. The governor has also issued an executive order prohibiting assembly’s over 250 people until April 30, 2020.
Friday, I, along with Jim O’Leary our Emergency Management Director wrote a letter to the Woodridge Lake Property Owners Association President, Richard Reis advising Woodridge Lake to keep all public gatherings to a minimum necessary in order to provide for the essential functions of their organization. I want to thank Richard for taking quick action by canceling a planned dinner and closing the club house. His action will help greatly in limiting the potential for the spread of this virus in our community.
Yesterday, the Board of Selectmen met to formulate a plan for our Town Hall, Library and various boards and commissions. According to the CDC for most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We take the following actions not because we have any knowledge of there being COVID-19 in our community but out of an abundance of caution for those most vulnerable in our community and to do our part to avoid spreading the virus. For those reasons, we feel it necessary to implement the following policies:
Starting Monday, the Library will be closed and all Recreation department activities will be canceled for the balance of this month. Where possible those programs will be rescheduled.
Individuals who need building or land use permits are encouraged to use our on line portal which can be found on our web site www.goshenct.gov. Those who may have business with the Town Clerk are also encouraged to use our on line portal, where you can research land records and vital statistics. If you have documents that need to be filed, we ask that they be sent to the Town Clerk via FedEx UPS or USPS. For those needing hunting and fishing licenses please use the DEEP web site to purchase them.
We will also be moving Board and Commission meetings to electronic means in the near future, either on line and or by conference call. I will send another message when we are ready to make that change. We’ll make sure that those interested in attending meetings are allowed to attend electronically and have the ability to see documents being discussed by boards and commissions.
For the time being Town Hall will continue to be open during our normal hours, however we ask that you limit your visits as much possible. Many of the answers to questions you may have can be found on our website, www.goshenct.gov. or feel free to call my office 860-491-2308 ext. 221 or my Administrative Assistant, Virginia Perry ext. 228.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my message this situation is ever evolving. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust as necessary in order to limit, to the extent we can, the effect of COVID-19 on Goshen residents.