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Killingworth Special Town Meeting

Despite the heat, residents and town officials kept their cool while discussing the proposed addition to the Killingworth Town Hall.

 

A special town meeting was held in Killingworth on Tuesday to consider and discuss, but not vote upon, for the cost of the proposed and to consider and vote upon a resolution to set the time to vote on the Killingworth Town Hall Addition Project referendum, scheduled for July 24, 2012, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The meeting was called to order shortly after 7 p.m. and a moderator was elected for the evening. The resolution to set the voting hours for the July 24 referendum was unanimously passed by those in attendance.

First Selectwoman Cathy Iino took the floor to stress to residents that the proposal "is a conceptual plan; it is, by no means, a final plan."

She reiterated that if the referendum passes, many of the ideas presented by the residents at meetings like Tuesday's would be taken into consideration in the final building of the project.

Following, was a nearly two-hour discussion between residents, elected officials and the volunteer Town Hall Building Committee. A representative from Webster Bank was also on hand to answer detailed questions about the financial process and the bottom line costs of financing the project.

The final cost to residents is dependent upon market rates, which are currently at "an all time historic low," but no definitive figure can be provided until the referendum is passed and the paperwork is processed for the bond notes, which could take around 3-4 months.

Currently, it is speculated that the interest rate would be "around 3%," which is considered a conservative estimate and may be even less. If the rate was 3%, the total estimated cost of financing the project could be about $4.7M ($3.5M plus interest). That figure is expected to raise the mil rate by about .28.

The referendum on July 24 is asking to appropriate the $3.5M, but that does not mean that the town will or has to spend the entire amount on the project. The town also has the option to utilize capital reserve towards the project, which would lower the amount borrowed. Currently, there is about $130K in the reserve fund.

One resident said "I don't feel like paying for another person's luxury. It's my money."

Another commented that "these are hard times and no one wants to pay more, but this is a coming together of just the right conditions. It is a beautiful town hall that we, as a community, can be proud of."

Other points of concern brought up in the meeting included the reasoning behind the choice of a timber-frame building and concerns over purchasing the supplies locally and in the U.S.A.

Regardless of everyone's opinions, residents thanked town officials and the volunteer building committee for their time and effort on the project.

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The proposed addition to the existing town hall would be an energy-efficient post-and-beam constructed building heated by geothermal energy and solar panels. It would nearly double the total square footage of the town hall, bringing it up to 14,441 square feet.

The design dates back to the New England tradition of plots that included a big house, a little house, a back house and a barn. In this case, the existing Town Hall would be the big house. The addition would be a barn-like structure with vaulted ceilings and additional space.

A referendum vote to approve the appropriation for the sum of $3.5M for the proposed Town Hall Addition will be held at the on July 24, 2012. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Christine Conlon July 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM
The best Town Hall is one you never have to visit. You only go there because you absolutely have to, and usually it ends up costing you money. Dreadful. There are multiple ways in which to address the issues we currently face. Unfortuneatly we only investigated one, very extravegant, solution. What about investing in eGovernment where transactions and look-ups would be performed online? eGovernment would increase service to the Townspeople as well as free up space for other uses. No one comes or moves to a town because of its beautiful town hall. People come to a town for its community events, services, businesses, etc.. How would one beautiful building surrounded by blighted others be interpreted? What about our beautiful Middle School? Can we use it for diasters? Didn't we do that last time? Didn't it work? Yes it was inconvient, however it was a blessing, and in the end, no one died. Managing by exception (that one in every 50 years storm) takes resources away from managing every day needs. It is a foolish venture. Speaking of foolish ventures, writing a 3.5M check for only a 'concept' is fiscally irresponsible in any economy. I watched the Building Committee listen carefully and take notes on various good ideas for changing the conceptual model. Therefore know it is going to change. What we don't know is what we will get in the end. We don't need this. It is YOUR money. Vote NO to the new Town Hall as currently defined.
Jane Baldwin July 21, 2012 at 01:05 PM
You people watch way too much Fox News. 3.5/4.7 million is not extravagant - and interest rates are incredibly low. It needs to be done. Why not do it right at one of the most affordable times in decades??
Jane Baldwin July 21, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Just got some mailer from the "Tax Fighters" today. Your second bullet point, "The proposal will actually cost at least $4.6 mill over 20 years not the $3.5 previously publicized - assuming the best case assumptions all happen." The $3.5 million is the number for the Bond (the spend on the project). The $4.6 is including interest paying back the bond. It was pretty clear you guys didn't understand the concept at the meeting considering all the stupid questions. Nothing was being hidden. In fact the $4.6 million number isn't if the "best case assumption" that is actually an estimate including a higher interest rate than expected. Your third bullet point - the issue of overrun was explained. You just didn't understand the answer. As far as saying that taxes will go up - this project does not guarantee higher taxes. Paying back the bond is like any other budget item. They gave an estimate on the mill rate (something like $28 per $100k value) - but that is just impact - not a tax increase. I found it interesting that your group had "VOTE NO" signs printed out and ready to go BEFORE you had an opportunity to go to this meeting and get all the information and ask the committee questions. Seems like a reasonable and needed project and the committee did a good job clearing up all the myths. Too bad you staked out your position before getting all the facts. I guess it's too late to tear up those signs and admit you got it wrong.
Scott Perry July 21, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Long term operating expenses of $17.5 million were not included in the BOS and Building Committee' tax calculations. The BOS and BC mailing states, "[o]ver the life of a building, construction accounts for less than 20% of the total cost; in the long term, operating expenses dwarf building costs." Based on their own information, the cost of the proposed $3.5 mil building will be. $17.5 mil over the life of the building and if the proposal were for a $2.0 mil building the lifetime costs would only be $10 mil. The $70 predicted increase tax rate does not take into cosideration the lifetime operating expenses of 17.5 million. Again, these are not my numbers or words but the BOS and BC's. The 3.5 million will be "dwarfed" by the long term operating expenses of at least $17.5 million.
Peggie Bushey July 21, 2012 at 06:56 PM
You sound a little angry, Jane. No, we didn't get it wrong...and our questions were well thought out and to say they were 'stupid' is not nice, Jane. Not nice! Yes, we had the signs ready to go (nice, aren't they?) and we paid cash out of our own pockets for them because we are fiscally conservative and don't want to put any debt on you! Maybe you need to understand how the Fed artificially plays with interest rates and manipulates them to get people to borrow money they can ill afford to pay back. It is like giving cocaine to an addict , Jane. I think we got it right and time will back this up. And when people leave K'worth or don't come here...well, I hope we will just be thinking "I told you so" and won't say it out loud. That would be mean.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Peggie, if those were the questions you came up with after thinking it out - I'd hate to see what kind of questions you'd have without thinking about it at all. Paid out of your own pocket for those signs - then go and complain about how hard you work for every penny and that you don't want to spend another penny on government - hmmmm.... makes a lot of sense. You're willing to spend your money on propaganda, but not on your community?? "Maybe you need to understand how the Fed artificially plays with interest rates..." Ok, so you proved my point that you watch too much Fox News. Your fighting the wrong fight. If you are upset with the fed, then go after the fed. Just because Fox News has you so tied up in knots about anything a government does, doesn't mean that a bond issue in a small town in Killingworth is somehow linked to the "fed"... LOL. Rather than handing out signs and sending out mailers, how about just handing out tin foil hats. I think that would better fit your message. You got it wrong. You're questions sounded like a person that hadn't passed the seventh grade. 3.5 million is the spend on the bond. Interest is implied. You seem to have missed the fact that the interest rates are the lowest they've ever been. If I've offended you by calling you stupid. I apologize. But if there was ever any doubt on you and your friends ignorance, you removed all doubt with your idiotic and ignorant questions and comments.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 05:10 AM
I see we have another "genius" here. Your figure is based on comments presented by an architectural firm making a case to build the new building. You are also failing to account for the fact that we are already spending money on maintenance. You must subtract the cost of maintenance of the current building - and because it is in such disrepair and not the most energy efficient building, it isn't an apples to apples comparison. Your math is pretty simple - but again, wrong. Gee Scott - seems like since you've not taken into account the fact that much of that money is already being spent and on the books and the increase would be much less - nothing else you've said has any credibility - right??? (applause) You people really need to get a life. You're another one spending thousands of dollars on political campaigns and crying about investing in our community. Stop watching Fox News and take a deep breath.
Scott Perry July 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Ms. Baldwin: My figures are based upon a brochure created by the Building Committee and Ms. Iino. They drafted, read, and distributed the brochure to everyone in Town. If they did not believe in the accurary of the long term operating cost figures of a new building, they should not have incorporated it into their mailing to convince people that doubling the habitable square footage of our Town Hall is "necessary." As for your second point, I agree that any long term operating cost analylsis of a New Town Hall should have the operating costs of the 3,000 square feet of pods subtracted. However, the long term operatng costs of doubling the habitable square footage of our existing Town Hall will be drastically higher than simply replacing the existing pods with a permanent structure that is roughly the size of our existing pods. For example, the long term operating costs of the 3.5 million proposal is approximately $17.5 million minus the long term operating costs for the 3,000 sq. feet of removed pods. The long term operating costs of a $2.0 million project is approximately $10 million minus the long term operating costs for the 3,000 square feet of removed pods. One thing is clear whether you back out the long term operating cost of the 3,000 square feet of removed pods or not, the BC and First Selectwoman did not consider the long term operating costs in their analysis of how much each homeowner will have to pay for their proposal.
George Hedrick July 22, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Wow, typical liberal response from Jane. Full of anger with total disregard to the facts.Once you resort to name calling YOU lose the debate. And what the Hell does Fox news have to do with it? There has not been ONE segment on Fox pertaining to Killingworth but, you wouldn't know that since you are probably tuned into MSNBC 24/7
Wendy Vincent July 22, 2012 at 01:05 PM
A friendly reminder to stick to the argument at hand and not attack each other in the process.
Christine Conlon July 22, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Thank you Wendy. This is a very important issue in our town, and issue that needs careful consideration along with healthy debate. It does not help anybody to get emotional, call people names, and make snyde remarks. The bottom line is it is much more than we need. Spending on more than we need is waste. And as Benjamin Franklin says, 'Waste not, want not'. Fix the modulars and/or use technology to better utilize the very nice space we already have. Use a pellet stove to heat the building - cheaper and more engery efficient than GeoThermal, and it uses scrap wood like saw dust; very green. Let's invest in Killingworth the right way. Bring in a YMCA, expande the recreational opportunities, bring in a grocery store, build sidewalks, create a town green for concerts and plays, build sidewalks for children to safely ride their bikes. Bring Killingworth ALIVE.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Ask Peggy what the Fed has to do with this project. Why are people printing "Vote No" signs before they've had a chance to understand a project? By the way - I don't get my information from FNC or MSNBC. I actually don't obsess about that kind of stuff. There are more important things in life. I do listen to a station on Sirrius radio, which plays all the political speeches and press conferences (both Republican and Democratic) throughout the day - unedited and uncut. What I hear is usually very different from what the pundits and media outlets present as they just like to pick little bits to get people wound up and increase ratings. I find that the truth of most matters is much less exciting and far less controversial then the nonsense most people buy into. When it comes to local politics, we should be looking at what is best for the community and not carrying out that pundits tell us we should be fighting. I believe Tea Party and Occupy movements are both about responsibility. It is irresponsible to make a decision about a community project prior to getting the facts - then to go into the meeting and not listening to the answers. Frustration with the economy isn't an excuse to ignore common sense or not listen to facts. We need a new Town Hall. The proposed project meets all foreseeable future needs and there isn't a better time then now to do it based on interest rates and construction costs. To me it is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
No more taxes July 22, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Jane ! "Government of the people, by the people, for the people"... With so many homeowners losing equity from their home's devaluing, so many homes in foreclosure, so many households struggling to make ends meet... Please explain how this town hall renovation will directly benefit our local economy? Secondly, What is Killiingworth doing to help those families that have been foreclosed upon or are in the process of? Third, What is Killingworth doing to attract new people to this community, attract new buyers of existing real estate in town, or encourage new business? We suspect nothing! Instead the Board of Selectman has focused their energy on the town hall renovation. Remember, "Government of the people, By the People, For the People"... Government officials should be focusing their efforts on helping people within their community ! Objectively, the proposed Town Hall Renovation is attractive. I would have expected nothing less from highly paid architects. Unfortunately, this is not the point. We are in dire times... Everyone knows this! Building a multimillion dollar government structure is not the answer, especially now! Jane, you must know people struggling... Reach out to them, offer support ! After all, this is how you build community. We ask all of the people in Killingworth to reach out and offer support to those struggling. One way is to vote NO, July 24, on further government expansion. Thnx.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Scott, you took a general statement and did some math without taking into account common sense factors (like depreciation, the current cost of maintenance, the future offset costs of major repairs and energy efficiency gains). You are right, that type of analysis was not provided to us. Yes, clearly, day to day maintenance and operation should be higher. But your figures aren't real. They are assumptions based on a comment that you've taken out of context and placed a number without any realistic adjustments to the impact. I looked at the town 2011 annual report to see if it clearly states these current expenses - it seems they are split amongst various expenditure categories. It would be interesting to see that analysis. However, your numbers don't have any validity.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Also, it is funny that you would call me a "typical liberal" and say that I lose when I resort to name calling. You also say that my response is full of anger and use the word "hell" in your response. Lastly, specifically, what "facts" am I disregarding? Maybe I was too harsh, but the only reason I was motivated to post anything at all was the misrepresentation of information and lack of facts being thrown out with a few folks that have a clearly stated political agenda. So I ask again, what facts have I disregarded? "Typical Liberal" - check "You lose" - check "MSNBC watcher" -check Gee, wonder where those talking points came from??? LOL
Scott Perry July 22, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Ms. Baldwin: The numbers I am using are not my numbers. They are numbers provided by the BC and BOS. The quote is not taken out of context and I urge everyone to read it in the brochure: "Over the life of a building, construction accounts for less than 20% of the total cost; in the long term, operating expenses dwarf building costs." If this statement is not accurate, the BOS and BC should publically amend their mailing. Unless they reveal the source of their information and the data used for that figure, we do not know if the factors you mentioned were taken into consideration.
Katherine Smith July 22, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I think putting out a flyer personally attacking Cathy Ilno is definitely not.." sticking to the argument". Opponents to the Town Office Building Project have made this a political issue when it is a town issue which is decided in the end by each vote. This has been a bi-partisan endeavor from the get go long before Cathy Iino took office. The "barnyard flyer" distributed recently fails again to present concise factual information. At, present, the project would require an increase in the mill rate less the a third of a mill. For a property assessed at approximately $230,000, the project would add about $70 per year and less than the $70 if property is assessed at a lesser value. Even with the 0.3 increase, the mill rate would be 2 points lower than it was six years ago. Repairing the existing modules now then needing to buy new ones when the existing modules fail is putting good money after bad and, in the long run, not a cost effective solution. Again, your vote is yours to cast as you think wise. It is the democratic way. Resorting to character assignation and distorting the facts to frighten and raise emotions is an insult to us all. It hurts the whole town. Katherine Smith
No more taxes July 22, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Katherine, please don't even suggest this as a political issue. There are many really bright and concerned Democrats in town that feel this project is ill-advised. This project is about the government thinking it NEEDS millions of dollars (tax payor dollars) to build a larger town hall! We think this project is an inappropriate expenditure at this time! Now you suggest repairing the roof is a "temporary" solution or throwing "good" money after bad. Hmmm... So, when someone needs to repair their own roof, due to a leak, with new 25 yr roofing shingles, that's temporary! What they should do, like the town hall project, is to build a new home! This is economical ? See the government can think this way because they are using other peoples money... OUR MONEY. Btw, the Building Committee's directive was to create a plan so government can expand. They directly admitted, the economical approach of repairing the leak, was not even considered! Additionally, where did the proponents for this renovation come up with the money to produce their flyer? Ah, TAX PAYOR FUNDS ! Is this legal? Who will be benefiting from this renovation? Well, before the 10 full time employees enjoy their new office space you have the Building Committee members, all in construction, will be bidding on this project! Hmmm... Is this a conflict of Interest? What about holding a referendum vote when many people are away on vacation. Does anyone see a problem here? Please Vote NO
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:14 PM
The people overwhelmingly rejected your "Better Choice Clan" and they will vote Yes on this project. Let me try to answer your questions.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:19 PM
"home's devaluing .. in foreclosure .. households struggling... explain how this town hall renovation will directly benefit our local economy? " *Any economist will tell you that money spent on construction typically benefits an economy. Of course we are talking about a drop in the bucket and won't change anything - but it IS a direct benefit to the economy. Now, are you suggesting that the Town of Killingworth is the reason so many people are struggling? If that were the case I wouldn't imagine it would be happening all of the country - would you?
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:26 PM
"Secondly, What is Killiingworth doing to help those families that have been foreclosed upon or are in the process of?" Nothing. I haven't read the town charter in a while - but I'm pretty sure that the agreement that a homeowner has with their bank is out of the scope of authority of the town of Killingworth. Are you suggesting that the Town of Killingworth provide bail outs to people that are under foreclosure? Are you willing to pay for that? Let me see, you said 19 houses in foreclosure - at an average sale price right now of about $350k. You want the town to give away $6.5 million to homeowners to pay their personal debts? Ok, make the proposal. Maybe we could charge interest to pay for the bond. Great idea. Or maybe we can't legally do that... Bottom line - it's tough, but if you can't afford to live in your home -then you need to move to a home you can afford to live in. The Town of Killingworth can't do anything about that.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
"Third, What is Killingworth doing to attract new people to this community, attract new buyers of existing real estate in town, or encourage new business?" Enhancing infrastructure. Maintaining services. Parmalee Farm. New rec field. I'm not sure what you're expecting. What specifically could the town do in this global economic recession that you think will make a difference? Just because the Town can't solve the worlds problems with this project, doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:36 PM
You're last paragraph is a bunch of hooey. You talk about caring about those who are struggling. You and your "Tax Fighter" friends aren't reaching out to help anyone. You are spending thousands of your own dollars on POLITICAL ads/campaigns that are half-truths at best. You've got a selfish political agenda and you aren't doing anybody any favors by misinforming them and trying to scare them. You want power. Good for you. Thankfully, you're a relatively small group. The residents of this town aren't fooled and are appreciative of the work our selectman and committees are doing to move this town forward. People know you guys aren't a serious group and don't pay much attention to your signs or mailers. The town will vote yes on this project and you guys will be back to the drawing board thinking up some other scheme to gain power. Just be careful what you wish for. You guys get elected and you might actually have to do something other than complain.
Jane Baldwin July 22, 2012 at 08:43 PM
You crack me up "Tax Fighter".. *"please don't even suggest this as a political issue..." *".... Please Vote NO" How is this not a political issue? Maybe it is or isn't bi-partisan - but by every definition known to man - this is a political issue!! LOL
Peggie Bushey July 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Jane, I invite you to go to our website-Killingworth GOP.org and read our posting today. It may help you better understand where we are coming from. I am sorry we didn't go past 7th grade so we, too, could use big girl words like 'stupid'. And we are not throwing nasty comments out. We are just trying to keep the government, locally , from overspending. I do not see this as a R or D issue..The R's just chose to make a statement. Jane, maybe you need to watch more Fox news and broaden your knowledge base a little bit. You really sound angry!
George Hedrick July 23, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Several of the "VOTE NO" signs have been defaced and removed. I find this type of activity repugnant. Not only is it a violation of free speech, it is illegal in ALL 50 states. Any individual convicted will face stiff fines and or incarceration. No matter what you position on the town hall it is patently wrong for anyone to conduct themselves in this manner.
Dave Adametz July 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Ms, Smith, there is nothing misrepresentative in the "barnyard flyer". -It doesn't matter who first came up with the idea for the town hall addition. THIS project is most certainly Ms. Iino's project as it can't NOT be the first selectman's responsibility to be in charge of a $3.5 million town municipal project that rebuilds the town hall. If it's seen as an attack to state this is her "barnyard" then all you're doing is admitting there's immense public disapproval for the project. If there was widespread popular support for the project everyone would be clammoring to claim their share of the credit for it. -The promoters themselves admit that despite the recent mil rate increase, financing this project will increase the mil rate yet again, and it is an undeniable fact it won't be paid off until our children grow up and begin paying for it themselves. If your child is ten years old now, he/she will finish paying for it when he/she turns thirty. -There are many more cheaper alternatives to the project in its current form than just repairing the current structure- that's the entire point. The reason it's so expensive is because of the list of amenities the promoters included which have nothing to do with running a town gov't. Please be careful, here. I agree that in any public debate, we need all the facts to make an informed decision...but it serves noone to accuse someone else of misinformation and then simply turn around and provide more misinformation.
Dave Adametz July 23, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Please, Jane, it only makes yourself look ignorant for you to behave in such a childish manner, not us. Let's be honest, here- you're not saying the questions and the concerns we're bringing up are stupid because they're poorly thought out. You're calling them stupid because you don't agree with the people asking them. I was the one at the meeting who wanted an estimate on what the full cost of the project will be, because the $3.5 million is what they're going to borrow, NOT what they're going to be paying back- the full price tag will be upwards of $4.7 million. The extra $1.2 million the town is required to pay back doesn't just go away simply because it's not part of the bond amount, and the extra $1.2 million everyone will need to pay in taxes doesn't become any less painful for us simply because the money will be listed under a different ledger entry. This is critical information that people need to understand for them to make an informed decision on this project, so if you think it's "stupid" for people to want to know this then you really are in no position to be questioning the rationale of other people here. I will repeat what Ms. Bushey said- please go to www.killingworthgop.org and you will find the list of well researched reasons for why the KRTC is opposing this project, because the only one bringing partisan politics into the mix here is you. Case in point- what does Fox news or even the Better Choice election have anything to do with this?
Jane Baldwin July 24, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Do I? I guess I'm as angry about prejudiced austerity and fear mongering as you are about your perception of government overspending. "maybe you need to watch more Fox news...." Honestly Peggie, I've seen more than enough of that circus. Fox News is just another package for Murdoch's tabloid nonsense. Why would you recommend someone watch programming that is purposely misleading, scaring and angering it's viewers? They've certainly got you up in arms about the "government" don't they? I apologize for calling you stupid - but watching that channel doesn't help your case any...
Jane Baldwin July 24, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Yet you had your "Vote No" signs printed out before you gathered any of that information or attended the meeting. I looked at your website. You did put some work into that and there are some valid points - but much of it is just piling on a bunch of nonsense (metal buildings?? really??) and spin to try to prove a theory you already had rather than looking at the big picture and weighing pros and cons. As far as the questions that were asked at the meeting - no, they were stupid questions. Of course the $3.5 million for the bond doesn't include the interest. You acted like you uncovered some terrible secret. You should try to understand the "fiscal" part of "fiscal conservatism" before you start trying to disassemble a pretty reasonable proposal. Do you disagree that we need a solution to the current town hall? Do you disagree that the decision had already been made to replace it? Do you disagree that the interest on bonds is at historically low rates? Do you disagree that paying less now for something that will meet all our future needs is the fiscally responsible thing to do? All the stuff about the size, location of EOC, State Trooper, Oversized Kitchen, construction methods, geothermal versus conventional heating, etc... is just piling on and nitpicking to make your case sound stronger than it is. Simply put - you decided against it before you knew anything about it and now your building a deck of cards so you don't seem foolish. Too late.

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