Voices, by Linda Zukauskas
WASHINGTON — The Board of Finance, meeting Monday, January 23, approved recommendations on how the town should use funds assigned to Washington from the American Rescue Plan Act.
The American Rescue Plan Act Fund Committee evaluated several requests and ideas for how to use the federal dollars to recommend $10,000 to address addiction treatment and counseling, a $5,000 grant for ASAP, $30,000 to improve broadband access, $75,000 for stormwater projects to be performed by the Housatonic Valley Association, $18,250 Judy Black Memorial Park and Garden, $7,000 to the Washington Housing Commission, $85,000 to the Housing Trust, $8,800 for the Washington Business Association and $10,000 Washington Friends of Music.
The Board of Selectmen agreed with these suggestions during its meeting on Thursday, January 19, which add up to $164,050.
Of the approximately $1 million assigned to the town, the town has approximately a half million left to spend.
There are additional recommendations from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund Committee yet to be considered by the selectmen. All funds must be distributed by 2024.
In his report to the board, First Selectman Jim Brinton said the town is reaching out to department heads to gather information and build the budget.
“Knock wood, it’s been a mild winter,” he commented, noting that there have been savings in the areas of materials, including sand and salt and overtime.
He explained that the Capital Improvement Plan must be in place to enable the town to apply for grants and consider future expenses.
The plan is informed by several factors, including the goal of replacing fire apparatus on a 30-year cycle and public works equipment on a 20-year cycle.
Costs for police vehicles is born by the town, but Mr. Brinton would like to renegotiate the resource vehicle to obtain funding from the school district.
The CIP has remained largely the same as the previous plan.
Following the overview, the finance board unanimously approved the CIP, which will now go to a town meeting for consideration by voters.
As the board reviewed the finance report, members learned that the police have updated weaponry and that has resulted in the need to replace ammunition.
Linda Gomez added that there will be new software to comply with police accountability as a state requirement at a cost of $4,000.
Pointing out that Washington uses the resident trooper program, which already complies with the accountability requirements, Mr. Brinton said it is redundant to ask small towns like Washington and Warren to take on responsibility for the software as if they were a larger municipality with its own police force.