Progress Update Since 2009 Election
Statement from Llodra/Rodgers announcing intent to seek reelection

We are asking the voters of Newtown to do us the honor of returning us to the Board of Selectmen. This is not an automatic or lightly made decision on our part; instead, after reviewing the goals we set forth when we ran for the Board two years ago, and considering circumstances that have arisen since then, we have concluded that though we have accomplished much in our first term, much remains to be done. We thought it might be helpful to the voters to remind them of what we set forth as our goals and provide a status update concerning them. The original goals, set forth in our press releases and campaign literature in 2009, appear below, followed by updates.  It should be noted that the status updates reflect many actions of the Board of Selectmen and, as such, result from the collaboration of all three members.


Carefully manage our fiscal future; prioritize needs aligned with long-term plan and vision; control spending and get more for every dollar spent through increased use of technology, cooperation and collaboration by both town and school agencies. Improve the annual process for budget development and capital improvement planning so that resource allocation is justified and aligned with well-established priorities.

Update

Combining efforts towards joint purchases and services between the education and town budgets has advanced further in the past two years than it has in any prior attempt. One significant example of this is the Municipal/BoE collaboration in medical insurance consultancy and in self-funding our employee medical benefits program. However, we are still shy of solidified recommendations and implementation of those recommendations in other common areas of work. We wish to shepherd that consolidation/collaboration process through to completion. Working with other relevant town bodies, we have significantly improved the annual budget and Capital Improvement processes in at least four ways: first, within the "Town" side of the budget, we have increased the accuracy and transparency in department budgets; we have demanded increased justification and prioritization in capital improvement requests and have produced Capital Improvement Plans that reflect the same; third, we have fostered what has been recognized by insiders and outsiders alike as an unprecedented level of cooperation between the Boards of Selectmen and Education in the budgeting process, so much so that at times the two entities actually presented to other town bodies in a combined fashion on various financial matters; fourth, by implementing several "savings" measures in the annual budget, such as increasing our capital nonrecurring and contingency accounts, we are paying for a number of capital items from operational funds, instead of bonding such purchases as done in the past. Finally, we committed to a financial discipline that removed our reliance on use of fund balance for operational expenses. These improved financial practices will bolster the Town's reputation in the eyes of financial rating agencies thus securing or eventually improving our bond rating; with the outcome that borrowing for capital improvements is available at an attractive rate.  Overall, these steps also generally contribute to a closer coordination of operational budgets with capital plans. 



Utilize effective data collection and analysis processes to identify and plan for municipal and educational needs for the next decade. Collaborate with town and school agencies to update and refine existing plans and incorporate this information into a long-range vision for Newtown. 

Update

In our view, the single most important planning document in Newtown is the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). Unfortunately, while the POCD is good one, it has not benefited from adequate "follow-through" for, while the Planning & Zoning Commission has admirably and dutifully undertaken monitoring work in this regard; the problem is that it has no power to compel compliance with the Plan. Accordingly, we suggested early in our term that a formalized implementation process for the Plan was necessary, one that would include firm dates and firm consequences for noncompliance. To this end we have collected similar implementation plans from other Connecticut communities and plan to draw on these to draft our own implementation this summer. The actions and operations that would thereafter take place pursuant to this implementation would carry into the next several years.  We recognized early on that our Town’s financial position and current practices would not support implementing the goals of the POCD. There simply are not sufficient resources to meet the desires of the agencies and commissions for the continued growth of our community. This is why we first turned our attention to establishing a discipline for financial practices.  We see improved financial policies and practices as critical for growth and development of Newtown.   Other long-range planning has begun to take shape; planning that speaks directly to community services and programs. Examples of this include the road and bridges plan; the plan for parks and recreation; and the upcoming municipal facilities needs assessment.    


Protect, preserve and develop our village neighborhoods. Support a plan for development that respects the character and uniqueness of these neighborhoods. Be mindful of the needs of our senior citizens. Continue to invest in open space and the creation of linked greenways that provide aesthetic value and recreation. Promote and support development of parks and fields that provide family-friendly opportunities for recreation and social contact.

Update

We are involved with and support established neighborhood groups such as SHOP and HEAT to ensure that development in these neighborhoods is consistent with their values and needs. In Sandy Hook, our focus has been on continuing to develop the commercial core through streetscapes, extended water line and improved intersection.  In Hawleyville we monitor and challenge the actions of the Housatonic Railroad and Newtown Transload. Recently we added focus on extending the Hawleyville sewer line as part of an economic development initiative. We will be working with the residents of that area to plan for pocket parks and other family-friendly uses. We worked with Borough officials in crafting a plan with United Water that protects their historic streets and we are working with the Edmond Town Hall to ensure its continued role as an icon of beauty and history for Main Street.  And, we are involved with Hook and Ladder to secure an appropriate location for their facility within the Borough.  Despite the difficult economic challenges we face, funding for seniors; Parks and Rec; and the library has been protected.  We are committed to increase funds for open space and have that in our CIP for the upcoming years.  A new Animal Control facility will be in place this year and we are gaining ground on funding for a dog park.  We completed the management take-over of Eichler’s Cove Marina and supported funding for initial improvements at that site.    


Review and update the Master Plan for Fairfield Hills to guide and focus future development. Ensure that this plan: aligns with town-wide priorities; is integrated into the long-range vision and plan of development; and is implemented within constraints of fiscal realities. 

Update

We created a Master Plan Review Committee and took special care to appoint to it citizens representing all viewpoints, including those critical or suspicious of governmental activities in this arena to date. The Committee will be releasing its findings very soon and the Board of Selectmen will then determine what subsequent process is necessary to ensure that the Master Plan reflects the committee findings.   Further, the Board of Selectmen is committed to examining what level and kind of government structure should provide the oversight for implementation of the Master Plan. It has been our stated goal, with many actions in support, to bring management, supervision, and development of the Campus under the general Town umbrella. To that end, we have significantly reduced the role of the private management firm; security is being supervised by our local police dept; the care of lawns and fields is under the auspices of our parks and recreation program; and financial oversight is being provided through our town finance office.  The year 2012 will end the role of the private management firm completely.   Accordingly, in an effort to preserve the integrity of the process we commenced, we do not intend to focus on Fairfield Hills issues in this campaign. We support and will implement the findings of the Review Committee and when we are returned to office; we will act upon any applicable Master Plan recommendations then. As far as implementation of recommendations within the existing Master Plan, we have taken care to proceed carefully with improvements that are either ones that the Town is contractually bound to do or those that are prerequisites for any kind of further use of the property. 


Support quality education so that all Newtown students receive a challenging curriculum, gain essential knowledge, and develop skills necessary to achieve their full potential. We strongly encourage innovative, cost-effective approaches in order to achieve this goal.

Update

As Selectmen, we have limited power with respect to education matters as the Board of Education operates independently, with its own budget. We do have the ability to support education through our public voices and have and will continue to do so. We also have the ability to help financially by identifying and promoting shared costs and services opportunities which we also will continue to do. Recent events indicate that the Board of Education and education administration face new challenges and we believe we can exert influence and pressure behind the scenes to foster a continued environment for excellence. 

We have enjoyed serving Newtown these past two years, and indeed many years before that, in other capacities. We would like to finish what we started and, further, carry forward those new ideas and initiatives that will help Newtown prosper.  We believe we have created responsible town side budgets and have also fostered a new climate of cooperation among town bodies, political parties and factions that is benefiting Newtown financially and otherwise.