Tuesday morning was Waterford’s annual State of Waterford address at Filomena's.
The event, which was put on by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, featured speeches by First Selectman Dan Steward and Superintendent Jerome Belair. The two men both gave updates on the state of Waterford and discussed the issues impacting the town.
Both men touched on a variety of subjects. Here are some highlights:
The New Waterford High School
Belair said students were “excited as heck” about moving into the new addition to Waterford High School, which is part of the $67 million renovation to the school. He said students will move in on April 8th and there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 20th that is open to the community.
“Bring your family, bring your friends,” Belair said. “It is really a state-of-the-art facility. It really is a gift to the youth of Waterford. And we couldn’t have done it without the generosity of the Waterford community.”
New High School Principal
Belair said the Board of Education hopes to hire a new principal for Waterford High School at their next meeting on March 27th. Current Principal Don Macrino is retiring at the end of the year.
Belair said he is proud of the district’s $44.62 million budget proposal for the 2013-14 school year, which is a 0.96 percent spending increase over this year’s total.
“It is just about the lowest (increase) in a very, very long time,” Belair said. “We’ve looked very hard at reducing the cost on the operational side so we can hold on to the instructional programs.”
Steward said he was happy that Gurley Road was redone by the town, the Logger Hill sewer project was completed and the Harrison’s Landing sewer project is almost complete.
He also said he was happy with the new developments in town, such as the imminent Eugene O’Neill expansion and the Dana Farber cancer center that is being built on Waterford Parkway South. Steward said while the cancer center won’t pay taxes, it will hopefully bring in other businesses that will.
“Obviously a hospital facility may not be the best tax environment for the town but it certainly provides a business opportunity for all the other businesses that serve our hospitals,” he said.
Steward said his municipal budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year, without debt service, is less than a 1 percent increase over this year's total. That proves not to be true when looking at the budget documents, as the real increase is 3.6 percent.
Steward said Millstone Power Station is the town’s largest taxpayer and he hopes to maintain a good relationship with Dominion, the owners of the facility.
“We have to take care of Dominion and we have to have Dominion take care of us,” he said.
Steward said he is working with New London, East Lyme, Old Lyme and possibly even Montville to build a new animal control shelter. So far, residents have raised more than
Steward criticized a proposal by Gov. Dannel Malloy to eliminate the car tax. He said this will cost Waterford $2 million a year in tax revenues and will just mean higher taxes on property owners.