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Town Leaders Discuss The State of Waterford

Superintendent Jerome Belair and First Selectman Dan Steward touched on the new high school, animal control, taxes, the Dana Farber Cancer Center and Malloy’s budget at the annual State of Waterford address.

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.

School Budget

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.”

New Developments

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.

Municipal Budget

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.

Millstone

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.

Animal Control

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

Car Tax

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.

Ron March 20, 2013 at 01:42 PM
What an absurd statement that: " We have to take care of Millstone" Waterford just raised Millstone's taxes over $ 3,000,000 to $ 34,000,000 (16 % tax increase) and Molloy is still making Dominion charge extra for electricity to every citizen in CT as a surcharge which goes directly to the state. Is this how Waterford takes care of its businesses ? What kind of thinking or rationalization could raise a tax on a private business over 15 % and make it pay for an electricity surcharge which goes directly to Molloy to give to the State unions, and then say " we have to take care of Dominion and they will take care of us." Possibly Waterford could bake Millstone a cake and give it to them to show its friendliness as a good neighbor and partner in the future. Only in Waterford could a statement like this be made and no one object or question it.
Rod March 21, 2013 at 01:43 AM
Obviously someone objected to it. The criticism of the current State's administration tax policies are well warrented, but remember that Dominion agreed not to pass that State tax increase on to their customers in the first two years (which they did not). Only when the State administration broke its promise and came back yet again with the tax did Dominion pass it on. As for Waterford's taxes, all businesses where hit hard by this year's revaluation, which devalued residential properties far more than commercial properties - this resulted in a "shift" of property value (and therefore the tax burden) to bussinesses from residential. To make matters worse, the Governor's current proposal to eliminate much of the vehicle tax, would shift even more tax burden to "real" property owners, which includes businesses and the rest of us residential property owners.

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