Monday, December 17, 2012

Sympathy Card from New Milford to Newtown

Please take a moment to stop at Town Hall and sign this sympathy card.  Please note that the other side of this card is full so be sure to sign soon.

Monday, November 5, 2012


My choices:

1A   Romney and Ryan

2A   Linda McMahon

3A   Andrew Roraback

4A   Clark Chapin

5A   Cecilia Buck-Taylor

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Recycling Center Will Open Saturday, November 3

The Recycling Center has been closed because a primary electrical cable is on the ground at the Center's exit and there's no power to operate the compactors.  Mike Zarba, Director of Public Works, said that the Center will be open on Saturday even if electricity isn't restored.  "If the electricity isn't on," he said, "the cable will be moved and we'll use open containers rather than our compactors."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pat Erickson: 'Grossman An Embarassment'

Last night I attended the debate for the 67 State Representative seat being vacated by Clark Chapin. I was shocked at how nasty one candidate was during the debate. For some reason, Andrew Grossman chose to say very negative things about Clark Chapin.Then he proceeded to find fault with how our town is run. He had a lot to say and it was all negative. I wondered why he choose to move here two years ago. As a life long resident, I had never witnessed a candidate who was so arrogant.

One young lady in the audience who attended her first debate asked me "are these things always this nasty"? She said it made her very angry, I too felt the same way.

I felt embarrassed for the Democratic Party because I know this is not how its Members operate in our Town . We have many Democrats serving in our Town who work well with others and are very civil.

Mr Grossman was an embarrassment to our Town.  God forbid he represent us in Hartford.  I realize he has only lived here two years but this is not how I expect a candidate to behave.

My sincere thanks to Nicholas Payne and Cecilia Buck-Taylor for being cordial and acting with decency throughout the debate.

They kept on topic and did not feel the need to be rude and disrespectful to each other or any other elected officials.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tom Sprong, Town Engineer, Dismissed

Director of Public Works Mike Zarba confirmed that Town Engineer Tom Sprong is no longer employed by the Town of New Milford.  Mr. Zarba had "no comment"  about the circumstances of his dismissal.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Household Hazardous Waste Day

Date:  Saturday, September 15, 2012  Rain or Shine

Time:  9-3

Where: Railroad Station, enter from Bridge Street, drive straight through to exit onto Young's Field Road.  

Who:  Residents (no businesses) of New Milford, Brookfield, Sherman, Warren and Washington; bring proof of residence.

Yes:   Drain or oven cleaners, old chemistry sets, metal polish, arts and crafts supplies, photo chemicals, floor cleaners, dry cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, wood strippers, septic system cleaners, paint thinner and lead-based paint and lead paint chips, rust preservatives, oil-based paints, transmission fluid, solvents, degreasers, sealant, antifreeze, brake fluid, engine and radiator cleaners, dioxin, silvex or 2, 4, 5-T, grill or camping size propane tanks, pesticides and herbicides in five-gallon or small containers, insect spray and rodent killers, pool chemicals, muriatic acid, no-pest strips and PCB contaminated items, fluorescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs, cell phones, mercury thermometers. (List not exhaustive).

No:  electronics (may be dropped off for free at the Recycling Center during normal business hours), latex paint, used motor oil, Freon, unknown gases, tires, infectious or medical waste, smoke detectors, explosives and highly reactive materials, garbage, ammunition or fireworks, radioactive materials or drugs.  (List not exhaustive).

More information:  Health Department (860) 355-6035;  Public Works (860) 355-6040.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Traffic Advisory: Bridge Work Starts Tomorrow, August 23

I received this information from Mayor Murphy's Administrative Aide, Tammy Reardon:

"Beginning on Thursday, August 23rd, Michael Baker Engineering, Inc and its sub-consultant, GM2 Associates Inc. will be performing a bridge safety inspection on the Veteran's Bridge (No. 00901) over the Housatonic River on State Routes 202 & 67, in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation Bridge Safety & Evaluation Department.

The bridge inspection will take place on Thursday and Friday, August 23rd and 24th from 9am until 3pm; and on Saturday and Sunday, August 25th and 26th from 6am until 1pm.
During these times, there will be only one-way alternating traffic due to the inspection equipment necessary to be set-up on the bridge.  New Milford Police Department will be utilized for traffic control during inspection times.

Please plan your trips accordingly, utilize alternate routes and allow for extra time during your travels due to the anticipated traffic delays."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Speakers' Appalling Lack of Due Diligence at Last Night's Town Meeting On Road Bonding

Readers are familiar with my number one rant: get the facts.   Please don't waste everyone's time and energy airing your ignorance...ask questions first!  Do a little homework!

With the exception of Warren Braren, not one of the speakers last night bothered to call Town employees or officials before speaking.  That's appalling.  Mike Zarba, Director of Public Works, Ray Jankowski, Director of Finance and Mayor Pat Murphy all confirmed that none -- other than Mr. Braren -- had ever called to address the issues that they raised last night.  And what happens when these folks make these misstatements to their friends and neighbors?  The rumors spread and, unfortunately, the taxpayers may suffer.

Here's a simple example.  A speaker decried the borrowing at 2.5%  Well it's not 2.5%, it's more like .0379%   It would have been a disgrace if this package had been defeated because people based their vote on this misinformation.

If you can't address the facts appropriately, then it's my guess that you're there with a personal, perhaps political, agenda that has no place in this forum.

I am especially surprised at statements made by former Director of Public Works, Pat Hackett.  I have very specific recollections that he was angry that people were attacking DPW without ever picking up the phone to get the facts.  Pat, that's exactly what you did last night! You did the very thing that upset you so much when you were the Director.

Come on, people.  Don't complain about transparency if you can't pick up the phone and ask questions or ever attend a Town Council Meeting where all of this has been discussed.  We should be able to do a lot better than this. 

The Bond Package passed.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grove Street Mud-Slinging Likely Going to Court

O', I just feel it in my bones.  I can sense it, even smell it.  The comments here.  The letters in the paper.  The rumor mill.  It will be the owners of the properties below the Looneys against the Looneys for the results of their alleged negligence in clear-cutting their property without regard to the potential impact on the properties below them.  A report from a geologist will be very telling.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Budget Passes

With a lot of rain and a little turnout (just north of 11%), the Budget passed yesterday.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Work Commences Today on Main Street West

  • From Public Works:
  • West Main Street and Sidewalks on Green - Reconstruct West side of Main street and sidewalks on the Green. Colonna Concrete & Asphalt Paving LLC has been awarded the bid. Work will begin Friday May 4th and substantial completion will occur within 45 days per contract.  Saw cutting and excavation begin Friday 5/4, BUSINESSES ARE OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE, thru traffic should consider alternative routes

Friday, April 27, 2012

Misleading Budget Data Circulated By E-Mail

The fear-mongers are at it again.  Who they are I don't know but the people from who are circulating these e-mails in an attempt to defeat the Budget are either confused, deceitful or both.  Unfortunately, their attempts to defeat the Budget may be very costly.

The first ridiculous and misleading claim is that the Town has overbudgeted for utilities.  Wrong!  Those of us who receive bills for electricity or oil know that prices fluctuate.  The Town budgets that are prepared in February contain only projections of utility costs; they are fluid.  Rates can go down, winters can be mild.  The Director of Finance monitors rates and takes advantage of market prices whenever he can.  What are the results?  Savings! 

OK, great.  So where do the savings go?  They go into the undesignated account where they are available to be used for emergencies like the Chinmoy problem or other projects that otherwise couldn't be done because of budget constraints.

The second ridiculous and misleading claim is that the Town Budget has grown "7.5 times as much as the Board of Ed."  Kids, if it's your parents who are writing this trash, would you please take a moment to give them a short arithmetic lesson?  Please explain to them, as you know well, that they shouldn't be using percentage comparisons unless the budget numbers are identical.  A $100 increase on a $1,000 budget is 10%.  A $100 increase on a $10,000 budget is 1%.

In addition, even if the arithmetic comparison was valid, one needs to look at what's included in the two Budgets to make a fair comparison.  For example, the Town has all the debt and bonding on its side.  Another good example. Of the 2 million coming out of the Internal Service Fund, 1.5 million went to the BOE and only $500,000 went to the Town.  The moral of the tale is that to make a proper comparison, one has to look at every element of every line in both budgets.

The people who are writing these e-mails are doing a disservice to the Community.  Of course I support their right to speak up but Moody's watches the Town's budget process very closely.  It will be very costly if their unfounded claims result in Budget defeat.       

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Martha Sanford, Assistant Assessor, Speaks Out

I have heard twice this week that people, including one Town Council Member, think that the Assessor's Office employees sit around for four years just waiting for the next revaluation period.  It was then I realized that I had to let the public know that we are not wasting your tax dollars being inactive.

I have worked here for twenty five years and enjoy it immensely.  We have made great improvements in the Office in the past couple of years and we have finally come together as a cohesive group.  Not only that but the Town has spent money wisely, preparing us to continue with our career choices and to better serve the public.

The Assessor and I are both Connecticut Certified Assessors II. The Statistician is a Connecticut Certified Assessor I and the technician will be taking her Administrative Assessors Technician exam soon.  The Statistician will continue to obtain her II rating and the Technician will continue towards her certification.  This procedure allows the Town to have educated employees who are familiar with the process as years pass and employees leave.  All can jump into the running of the Office if someone has an extended leave and provide uninterrupted continuity.  We all have knowledge of the State Statutes that our Office must follow.

The Technician's main goal is to have all land records up to date.  I am proud to say that many appraisers are surprised how up to date our record keeping is compared to other Towns.  I'm sure you're saying no big deal but this process is not simply entering new owners on land records.  She has to investigate each document filed in the Town Clerk's Office to determine that the correct property is transferred, combined, split and, most of all, that the Schedule A attached to a deed actually matches the property being transferred.  Many times she is dealing with Attorneys' offices because the description is from an old deed that doesn't match what is really taking place.  Other times, the ownership doesn't flow as it should because name changes have not been filed.  She is usually the first person at the counter to greet the public unless she is busy on the phone.  Her position does all filing, contributes with the mailing process of Personal Property, prepares all large mailings, prepares most purchase requisitions, processes all mail and corresponds with taxpayers either through email, writing letters or telephone.

The Statistician's main goal is processing exemptions for the blind, Social Security disabled, Veterans disability, Active duty Military and Veterans Disability based on income.  She also works with the PA 490 land use records, farm, forest and open space.  Some of you may be saying no big deal again but all of these records have to be updated with each Grand List so it is not a one-time process.  Applications have to be mailed and filed yearly. All applications have different deadlines and reports filed as required by State Statutes.  This position does all of the pricing for our Motor Vehicle un-priced Grand and Supplemental Lists.  There is a tremendous amount of time spent investigating pricing, especially trailers and large trucks.

Both of these positions complete most corrections on Motor Vehicles.  Think of all the taxpayers you know who have purchased new or used vehicles each year, moved, totaled or junked their cars.  All have to bring acceptable documents to the office to get the bills prorated.  This is an on going process through the year as transactions take place.

The Assistant Assessor's goal is to process applications for the Elderly and Disabled State Program and Town Ordinances enacted by the Town Council.  Determination has to be made for eligibility, percentage of ownership and calculated for abatements.  I am in charge of the Town Ordinance for the Volunteer Abatement Program.  I process all changes to the Assessor's Maps.  Zoning, Planning, Building, Wetlands, Fire Marshall, Tax Office, Town Clerk and Public Works departments all rely on our map and lot system to do their jobs.  If the Town had a computer system that all offices were connected to it would start with map and lot and each department could then enter records pertaining to one account that all others could use but it doesn't currently work that way so each department has the ability to go online and locate the property they need, although all information is not available.  I process all Personal Property Declarations for mailing with the help of the Technician and Statistician.  Locating new businesses takes up a lot of time prior to this mailing.  After mailing and receiving, I then calculate and assess. It's a very difficult process because the owners of a business actually report what they own.  They actually report, with the knowledge of how much they will probably have to pay based on the amount filed.  I assist the Assessor with measuring and valuing of new construction whether it's a new structure, deck or addition.

With regard to the Assessor,  I'm not sure anyone knows how lucky we are to have Kathy Conway as our Assessor.  We have worked together many years and her integrity and job ethics are incredible.  Her belief is that all tax payers should be treated equally.  She works harder than any Assessor I know.  She is involved in all aspects of this Office.  Her main concentration is on Real Estate and court cases but she is always available to us to share her knowledge and to make decisions on all procedures if need be.

No employee in this office has ever thought there were enough hours in a day to complete all we have to accomplish.  We have been called names and we have been verbally abused by the taxpayers at times but we still enjoy our profession.

I have written this off the top of my head but I'm sure I have forgotten much and have left out some smaller tasks that we do in our daily workday that leaves us less time for our major tasks.

When you think of cutting positions, I believe that the first thing that should come to your mind whether you are writing the Budget or are a taxpayer voting on it is how will the Town run if this Office cannot do the job you have entrusted us to do.  If you cut our Department then we won't need any other Town departments because there will be no money to collect for roads, entertaining the Seniors, running sports programs for the adults and kids, or giving at Social Services. Simply, without Finance Departments there is no Town.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bridges: No Cause For Alarm!

Contrary to the contents of the News-Times article, the bridges in New Milford are safe and are inspected at least every two years.  

For a number of reasons, I am appalled by the horrendous reporting done by John Pirro.  First, he failed to ask the Mayor about the issue.  Second, Mike Zarba, Director of Public Works, told me that he only had a brief telephone conversation with Pirro and Mike asked him to wait until they could meet so he could explain the process and give him updated inspection data.  Mike said that Pirro declined the invitation, claiming to be "on deadline," meaning, "in a rush."  Third, when the heck did a medical salesman become a quotable expert on bridge engineering and maintenance?  Fourth, Pirro did little more than rehash last year's pre-election campaign stories.

Here's a quote from the story that bothers me the most and has caused some concern in the Community.  Quoting the expert, Pirro wrote, "Until last year, he said, none of the local bridges in town -- as opposed to the state-maintained bridges -- had been inspected since 2002."  Pure hogwash and Pirro could have put the lie to this if he'd bothered to spend the few seconds it'd have taken to get the truth.

Mike explained to me that every two years the State inspects every local bridge over 20 feet and reports to the Town.  We have 34 of them.  In the last five years, he said that work has been done on at least 11 of the other 26 and some, like the one on Long Mountain Road, have been replaced.

Finally, if Pirro had asked, he would have been told that in 2010 and 2011 every bridge in Town was inspected by a consulting engineer.  The name of the Firm is Dewberry. 

Will the News-Times ask a reporter to write a follow-up story containing the facts?  Don't hold your breath.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Town Finances Get 'Clean Bill of Health'

The Mayor and Director of Finance Ray Jankowski are pleased with the results of this Year's Audit Report that was presented at last night's Board of Finance Meeting. 

"We got an unqualified audit and a clean bill of health," Ray said a few moments ago.  "I'm very happy about it.  We worked well with the Auditor this time around, better than last year.

"We're in good financial standing and we got rid of 3 of the 4 material weaknesses from the last Report," he said, explaining that the one that remains is about the lack of reconciliation between the Town and Board of Ed.

"They did find one new problem and that's with the Children's Center.  Although it has its own Board and handles its own finances, the Auditor wants us to oversee its financial operation and we'll do that in the future.

 "This is very good news for us," Ray said.  "It shows that we've been doing things the right way.  The taxpayers should find this very encouraging."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mayor's Proposed Budget

At last night's annual Joint Meeting of the Town Council and Board of Finance, Mayor Murphy proposed a Budget that would result in a 3.2% tax increase and leave the proposed BOE Budget in tact.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Christopher Blocker Named New Economic Development Supervisor

Connecticut native Christopher Blocker started work as the Town's new Economic Development Supervisor on January 23 and he's been digging in.  This morning, he is likely at a Meeting of the Development Services Team, the group that was started by the Mayor about three years ago .  Although he was an observer at last week's Meeting, today he'll be an active participant.  The DST meets on Tuesday mornings with anyone who has an idea for a project to find out what the project may entail.  Depending on the nature of the project, the meetings might include representatives from the land use boards, Buildings and Health Departments, Fire Marshal and Public Works.

I know that we all wish Mr. Blocker good luck in his new job and I hope that New Milford will reap many benefits from his excellent education, experience and good cheer.

Here's a picture of Mr. Blocker in his office in front of his Master's Diploma (Public Administration) and the Town's Zoning Map.  (Of far more importance, of course, is what's on his computer screen).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Recycling Center Closed Today Due to Snow

John and Jody are plowing.