SOUTHBURY — During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, March 19, First Selectman Jeffrey Manville started the meeting, which was live-streamed, by recognizing the board members who were participating by phone in order to maintain social distancing.
The first selectman declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, March 17, and expects the situation to last longer than the seven days defined in the current town charter.
Mr. Manville shared a proposed resolution from the town attorney to use the town’s emergency ordinance to amend the town’s code of ordinances to extend the duration of a declaration of a local emergency.
The board voted to continue the status until the national and state emergencies, as declared by the U.S. president and governor of Connecticut, are terminated or if the state is terminated by either the first selectman or an affirmative vote of at least four members of the Board of Selectmen.
The board will revisit the ordinance during a future meeting; the current document only allows for one extension of seven days as voted by the selectmen.
In response to questions from the selectmen, Mr. Manville said that the emergency powers allow for spending, but pointed out that no money has been appropriated outside the current budget.
Should money be needed outside the budget, the selectmen would make that appropriation in the same way as they had during the May 2018 storm.
During the meeting, the board unanimously approved a 30-day contract with S2 Resilience Group LLC, which will provide management services, advice, support and training related to the town’s response to the coronavirus event.
This will include physical and virtual oversight, and advice regarding the operation of the town’s Emergency Operations Center, daily operation of the EOC, training personnel, advising town officials and employees on the development and execution of departmental operational crisis plans, interaction and coordination with first responders and state and local officials, and providing ongoing after-action reports.
The EOC is expected to run seven days a week given the changes that are occurring daily and even hourly.
The expectation is to use existing town equipment and resources with no expenses anticipated.
In his report to the board, Mr. Manville thanked members the town hall staff for their actions in this difficult time.
He expects to keep as many town services and meetings to take place as possible.
Seniors can still obtain transportation to stores and can call the senior center at 203-262-0651 for rides.
There is no firm date for the budget referendum and Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order on Saturday, March 21, which extends the budget adoption deadlines and suspends the in-person budget adoption requirements for municipalities.
There is an open house tentatively scheduled for early May so that the public can examine the Edgewood Bath and Tennis Club for town use.
The committee examining the feasibility of this purchase is also comparing costs associated with rebuilding the Ballantine Park pool.
Before adjourning, the board agreed to move Robert W. Harrison from alternate to full member on the Planning Commission, with Selectmen Mike Rosen and Justin Bette in opposition.
As the selectmen debated potential conflicts of interest and how it might apply to this nomination, members noted that Mr. Harrison had recused himself from specific votes in the past to avoid such a situation.
Mr. Manville noted the chair had left that commission and the need to address more pressing matters, saying he does not anticipate future conflicts of interest.
He also reviewed the town process for addressing conflicts of interest.
Mr. Rosen and Mr. Bette both qualified their votes, expressing confidence in Mr. Harrison’s abilities but would have preferred to have town counsel weigh in on the appointment given the town’s current involvement in the town’s lawsuit against the Planning Commission regarding its denial of an application to install above ground fuel tanks on Peter Road.