This Week in Bolton (11/6–11/10)

Another busy week is in store for Bolton.

Tonight, November 6, the Heritage Farm Commission meets at 7 at the Notch Road Municipal Center, Room 9. The agenda is here.

Tuesday, November 7, is Election Day! Polls are open at Town Hall from 6 am to 8 pm. You can find a sample ballot here. For a list of Democratic candidates with links to their bios, look here. Schools will be closed Tuesday, so please be extra careful when driving around town!

Wednesday, November 8, the Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 7:30 at Town Hall. Two public hearings are scheduled. The first concerns a revision to the town zoning regulations to allow light manufacturing in areas zoned for “general business.” The second is a subdivision application for a four-lot open space conservation development at 114 Brandy St. (As of this writing, the agenda had not been posted to the town website.)

Thursday, November 9, the Board of Education meets at 6:30 in the BHS Library. The agenda includes a vote on a new AP U.S. government and politics textbook and a presentation on mastery-based learning at the high school.

Friday, November 10, Town Offices are closed in observance of Veteran’s Day. Schools are open, however, with BCS having a wonderful school-wide assembly to honor veterans.

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Why Voting in Municipal Elections Is So Important

I bumped into an old friend the other day who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I mentioned to him that I was running for Board of Selectmen this year, and he confessed that he doesn’t really know what that means and that he doesn’t get involved in local politics much. I was genuinely surprised to hear that someone I know to be knowledgeable and in touch with national politics was so out of touch with local politics. I left the conversation politely, but it got me thinking about municipal elections and why I believe they matter more than the large national contests! Let me explain . . .

  1. Fewer people vote. This means your vote makes a bigger impact in the election results than in the big national elections.

Bolton has about 3,400 registered voters. In 2015, only 1,469 of these voters cast a ballot in the municipal elections. That’s only about 43% of the voting population of our town! What’s more, that year the race for First Selectmen was decided by only 57 votes. 57! The vote was even closer for the BoS members, where the margin was only 33 votes! And the Board of Finance? There the election was decided by single digits! Truly, in a municipal election every vote makes a huge difference.

  1. Your First Selectman will likely have a larger impact on your daily life than your president. It’s true. Listen, I’m not trying to say that voting for president isn’t hugely important. But, you can’t call the president to ask about having a new stop sign installed at a dangerous intersection. The president doesn’t have anything to do with getting communications from the resident state trooper, nor does he get any say at all in how your property tax is being spent. Your First Selectman does all those things.
Graph2015BOF

The graph illustrates how close the 2015 BOF contest was. Thirty-one votes separated third place from sixth place, and the bottom three vote-getters were separated by only nine votes!

  1. You know and can influence candidates in a local election. The people who run our town, and who make decisions about how our town works, are also our neighbors! You will run into us at soccer games, at concerts on the green, and on Friday nights you’re likely to find me or my husband at Jao Praya picking up dinner. And you know what? If you get us talking, we listen! Have an opinion about the East Coast Greenway project? Strike up a conversation! Curious about all the work you’ve seen going on with the natural gas pipeline? Ask! We are your neighbors, and we care about the town just like you do. Get to know us, and next thing you know, your idea could be making a difference around town.

So why don’t more people vote in local elections? I’m not sure! One reason might be that we see much less communication about local elections. There is no endless stream of political ads during primetime TV shows. The Hartford Courant isn’t publishing articles every day about each of the candidates. It’s just not as “in your face” as the national elections. But that doesn’t mean it’s less important. Sandy, Kim, and I are doing our best to share the knowledge, communicate about the race and the candidates, and get people involved in our community. I hope you’ll join us too!

—Nicole Sullivan

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Sandra Pierog

Here’s First Selectman candidate Sandra Pierog’s presentation from last week’s Bolton Senior Center candidate forum.

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Christopher Davey and Alison Romkey

Board of Education candidates Christopher Davey and Alison Romkey also spoke at the October candidate forum at the Bolton Senior Center.

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Nicole Sullivan

At last week’s candidate forum at the Bolton Senior Center, Board of Selectmen candidate Nicole Sullivan shared what brought her family to Bolton and how she’ll draw on her professional experience as an engineer to help make Bolton better.

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Straight Talk about Audits; or, Why Our Tax Dollars Might Be at Risk

Recently, questions have been raised about the current Town administration’s handling of Bolton’s application to the State for reimbursement of eligible costs of the Bolton High School renovation project. This post is an attempt to give voters some information about this issue.

BHSUnfortunately, what little has been put out by the Republican leadership has been misleading at best and has done little to increase our understanding of what went wrong, what the consequences have been, or what consequences the Town might still face.

In fact, we might not have known anything about this problem if a group of concerned citizens had not shown up at the March 7, 2017, Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting to ask pointed questions of the First Selectman and the Town Administrator (read the minutes here).

When the BHS project was approved by referendum, the voters anticipated that the Town would be able to take advantage of State reimbursement funds available for school renovation. A State grant was sought and obtained to partially fund the project.

However, State funds are not paid up front—they are paid in the form of periodic progress payments to reimburse a percentage of eligible costs, with a “hold back” of 5% that is paid, if at all, after the Town makes a final submission of project costs and documentation and the State completes a final audit of the project.

Pending reimbursement by the State, the Town funded the project by borrowing some of the money and by taking some from the Town’s fund surplus or “rainy day fund.” (The administration has referred to this as the “Town borrowing from itself.”)

We should realize, however, that when money is taken from a surplus fund, the town loses interest income: Money that’s not there doesn’t generate interest, and the lowered fund balance could eventually effect our bond rating if the money is not replaced.

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Kim Miller

Please take few minutes to watch Kim Miller’s presentation at last week’s candidate forum at the Bolton Senior Center.

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