HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut lawmakers are attempting to pass a last-minute Democratic budget for the new fiscal year that would finally fix the state's projected $960 million deficit.
The General Assembly has until midnight Wednesday to pass the approximate $19 billion compromise that was reached between Democratic lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy late Tuesday.
It's unclear whether the legislature's minority Republicans will attempt to run out the clock with a lengthy debate. They were not part of the final negotiations and are unhappy with the last-minute push.
Republicans are also voicing concern about the decline in estimated revenues included in the budget plan. Republican Sen. Michael McLahlan of Danbury says the drop in income taxes represents an "atomic bomb."
Wednesday is the final day of the legislative session.
The Danbury City Council has approved a $244 million budget. The vote was 15 to 6, with all six Democrats voting in opposition.
Danbury has deferred hiring 45 positions, saving $500,000 in the coming fiscal year's budget. Mayor Mark Boughton says each department will be given an efficiency and savings goal, senior staff could get raises if the goal is met. Currently, Danbury has $23 million in the Fund Balance. The new budget reduces the use of the fund balance from $1.8 million to $750,000. No one time revenues are used to balance the budget.
There is a 2.95 percent increase in sewer and water rates so that infrastructure improvements can be made to both systems. Danbury is also preparing for state and federal mandated upgrades for phosphorus removal. Boughton says it's a $65 million to $70 million expenditure for needed upgrades to the sewage plant.
A home valued at $275,000 will see an increase of less than $8 a month with the new mill rate. Boughton touted Danbury having the lowest unemployment rate in the state, being the safest city in Connecticut and having among the lowest property tax rates in the state.
Despite the cost cutting in municipal spending, Danbury is increasing the City's contribution to the school. Boughton says that's because of a significant positive trend in student test scores over the years. He points to $55 million being spent at Danbury High School in the coming months for renovating the auto shop, constructing new front to the school, making roof repairs and building an addition to serve as the new Freshman Academy.
Boughton says the City is making difficult choices now, in order to avoid drastic measures later which are currently seen in other municipalities.
The City Council unanimously approved $3 million in capital projects. The largest appropriation is $750,000 for the school roof replacement program.
$500,000 is being allocated for the Still River project, including for the removal of vegetation, dredging and river wall repair. $450,000 for paving, drainage and road improvements along with $100,000 for sidewalk and street improvements was approved.
Other projects include HVAC replacement at the schools and various city buildings, money toward property revaluation and replacing highway department equipment.
NEW YORK (AP) - Health care data company IMS Health and Quintiles, which helps drug companies with clinical trial research, say they are merging in an all-stock deal worth nearly $9 billion.
The combined company will be called Quintiles IMS Holdings Inc. and will have a market value of nearly $18 billion, based on the companies' stock prices Monday.
The new company will keep two headquarters, one at Danbury, Connecticut, where IMS Health is based, and another in Durham, North Carolina, where Quintiles has its offices.
A vacant house in Monroe was destroyed by fire overnight. The fire on Downs Road started shortly after midnight. There was no one home at the time, and the house was reportedly under construction. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze by about 2:30am. A cause of the blaze was not immediately known. There were no reported injuries to firefighters.
A month long distract driving law enforcement campaign has wrapped up. Danbury Police were among the departments participating in the state wide visibility program, and received a grant to pay for part of the effort. Police were on the look out for drivers using a cell phone while behind the wheel.
In Danbury, there were 851 cell phone violations found during the month. A majority of those, 90-percent, were for texting. The balance was general cell phone usage. There were 143 other infractions written during the campaign. 39 motor vehicle arrests were also made during that time.
Under Connecticut’s cell phone law, fines are $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for each additional offense.
During National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, the Ridgefield Police Department collected a total of 59.5 pounds of unwanted, unused medications. The take back event is anonymous, with no questions asked. Police Departments across the state participated in the event. The Ridgefield Police Station has a drop box available 24-7. The Ridgefield Prevention Council also took part in the event over the weekend. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
PAWLING, N.Y. (AP) Musician Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates has dropped plans to host outdoor concerts at his music venue and restaurant in upstate New York.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was unable to obtain the required approvals in time from the Dutchess County town of Pawling, on the Connecticut border, 65 miles north of New York City.
Hall's business, Daryl's House, had announced in February that it planned to build an outdoor stage on its lawn that could accommodate 1,000 concertgoers.
The club's marketing director says the future of the backyard stage is now uncertain.
More than a dozen concerts initially scheduled for the outdoor stage starting in late May will now be held at four different venues, including Daryl's House and concert halls in Poughkeepsie, Peekskill and New Haven, Connecticut.
Danbury drivers will need to wait a while longer for the I-84 exit 6 westbound off ramp to go back to being two lanes.
Although the State Department of Transportation said they were working to speed up the widening project to take only three weeks because of safety concerns, there have been delays. The two lanes should be paved within a couple of weeks, putting the re-opening at mid-May. District Engineer John Dunham says the off ramp will have more capacity at that time. The DOT will then reevaluate and adjust the traffic signal timings throughout the interchange.
Dunham said at the start of April that the DOT was working with the contractor to expedite the off ramp work, bringing in additional fill material at a higher cost. The original plan would have taken 3 months to get the ramp back to two lanes.
The new traffic pattern on North Street- Padanaram Road where there are lane closures, is expected to be in place until October. After that, the DOT says there will be further modifications.
The entire widening project is not slated for completion until the summer of 2017. When it is finished, there will be two lanes in each direction and scattered dedicated turning lanes.
Two Connecticut men have pleaded guilty to distributing drugs involved in a Weston overdose. On January 3rd, a 22-year old purchased 30 oxycodone pills from 22-year old Tahir Farid of Hamden for $900. The man took some of those pills, as well as other substances.
He was found unresponsive at a friend's house in Weston two days later. According to medical personnel, he remains in a persistent vegetative state.
An investigate revealed that prior to the victim's overdose, 19-year old Ryan Looney of Hamden supplied Farid with the oxycodone pills. The pair were arrested in February as part of an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury. Looney and Farid will be sentenced in August.
The Weston and Monroe Police Departments along with the Drug Enforcement Administration's New Haven Tactical Diversion Squad and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated the case. The Task Force includes participants from the New Haven, Hamden, Greenwich, Shelton, Bristol, Vernon and Wilton Police Departments.
Redding residents are voting on a budget today. A $47.6 million budget has been proposed in Redding. It includes little more than $21 million for the schools. The figure also includes Redding's share of the Region 9 school budget for Joel Barlow High School. The entire $23.3 million Region 9 budget is also a separate question on the ballot. The cost is split between Redding and Easton based on school population percentage. A capital item is also listed on the ballot. It's nearly $5.5 million for HVAC systems at two of the schools. Polls are open until 8pm.
The President of Western Connecticut State University has been nominated to serve as a member of the Danbury Museum Board of Directors. The City Council will consider the appointment of Dr John Clark to the Danbury Museum Board of Directors tonight at their monthly meeting. The term runs through May 2019. In the nomination letter, Mayor Mark Boughton says Clark offers his experience as an administrator in higher education, having also served in the State and City University of New York systems. Boughton says Clark has a wealth of experience arranging financial support for higher education and health care institutions. He also has a deep interest in history that has influenced his life and career.
A fire at the Plumtrees Heights condo complex in Bethel over the weekend has left several units uninhabitable. One was damaged by the blaze, the others have no power because the electricity had to be cut. The fire was reported Saturday around 10am on the outside of an end unit on Eagle Rock Hill.
(Bethel Fire Department, Facebook)
Fire officials say the crews were able to prevent the fire from extending further into the unit, which suffered smoke, heat and water damage. The American Red Cross is providing assistance to the displaced residents. There were no reported injuries.
Mutual Aid was provided to the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Departments by Danbury. West Redding and Brookfield Fire Departments provided standby coverage.
A State Police K9 bloodhound has been able to locate an elderly Woodbury woman three and a half hours after she was discovered missing. The Woodbury Resident Trooper's Office received notice yesterday evening that a woman, suffering from Alzheimer's, was last seen on Good Hill Road.
The state police helicopter was unable to fly due to inclement weather.
The bloodhound was called in after an initial search for the woman was unsuccessful. After about 40 minutes, the woman was found a quarter mile from her home in thick brush.
She was disoriented and appeared to be suffering from hypothermia. She was transported to the hospital for evaluation.
State Police Bloodhounds are used to pick up where patrol dogs leave off. They can follow older tracks with a higher percentage of success.
A former Danbury pet shop owner facing animal cruelty charges has closed his New York pet store. 56-year old Richard Doyle was arrested three times in recent months connected to an investigation by state animal control authorities. He sold his Federal Road pet shop and closed two others in New York. As of Saturday, he closed the doors to his Mohegan Lake pet shop. New York State Senator Terrence Murphy previously wrote to the New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets requesting that Doyle's license as a pet store owner be suspended until the legal process concluded any wrongdoing. Doyle is due in Danbury Superior Court on the 18th.
A public hearing is being held in Brookfield tonight. The Board of Selectmen will be taking public comment on the proposed snow and ice removal ordinance and assessment of benefits for sidewalk improvements.
The proposed ordinance is about snow removal requirements and enforcement of those requirements. It gives the Board of Selectmen the ability to create a benefit assessment for abutting property owners for certain improvements in the Town Center District, or any other property owner for lands abutting or fronting a sidewalk. The sidewalk needs to be kept in safe condition and repair.
The public hearing is at 7pm at Brookfield Town Hall in meeting room 133.
The Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield is set for tomorrow night. The Board of Finance's final budget recommendation for the coming fiscal year will be reviewed. A recommended May 17th referendum date will be presented.
There is about a 2.5 percent tax increase proposed in the Brookfield budget for the coming year. The Board of Education portion of the budget is $40.4 million, and includes a new math program, elimination of pay-to-play and a filling several teaching and administrative positions left vacant since the recession. The $22.8 million municipal budget proposal includes hiring a community development specialist and a purchasing agent and buying portable classrooms for Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.
The annual town meeting is at 7pm tomorrow at the Brookfield High School auditorium.
BOSTON (AP) Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is helping the Boston Pops kick off its spring concert series.
The 42-year-old actor and filmmaker will be the orchestra's opening night guest on Friday. He'll be singing a selection of popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s, according to the ensemble.
The New England native is no stranger to the orchestra: He also appeared with them over the summer.
MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.
Founded in 1885, the Boston Pops consists of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and generally plays popular music.
The following week, composer John Williams is slated to lead the orchestra in selections from ``Star Wars,'' ``Jaws,'' ``Indiana Jones'' and other movies he's scored.
The Richter Park Authority in Danbury has reached a tentative agreement to place a communications tower on the 180-acre property. The Richter Park Authority is looking to have Bay Communications place a 150-foot cell tower near the golf course to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan.
The Master Plan calls for improving hiking trails and tennis facilities and to reconfigure the golf course to make room for a driving range. Richter House also needs a new roof and other maintenance work. The City has helped with weather-tightening on the house, but more work is needed.
The proposed lease is for 30 years--a 10 year license with options to renew. A committee of the City Council will consider the tentative agreement.
In making the case for approval, Mayor Mark Boughton previously noted that the Richter Park Authority has done the responsible thing and tried several ways to generate revenue for upkeep instead of asking city taxpayers for funding. He noted that they no longer give unlimited passes to seniors for golf and offer afternoon specials to bring in out of town revenue. But he says there are less golfers, fewer people have five hours during the day to take off from work to golf.
Boughton said there aren't enough golf revenues to improve the park, and they don't want to raise fees because that would chase more people away leaving the Authority with less money.
The granddaughter of the woman who donated the land to the City in 1968 has granted a partial waiver on the deed restrictions imposed on the City to allow for construction of a cell tower. The deed restricted use of the property to recreational purposes only.
The Danbury City Council has approved a lease for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand. Greater Danbury area residents may be looking ahead to summer recreation now that it's May. The City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement at their most recent meeting for the Candlewood Lake Concession Stand.
It's a five year lease with Luis Bautista, who was the leasee over the previous five years. Parks and Recreation Department Director Nick Kaplanis told the Council that Bautista proved to be a reliable partner with the City, and that his experience in the food service industry and background is well suited to operate this entity.
The value of the total lease is $8,550.
Do you have questions about economic terminology? A public service lecture is being provided in Danbury tonight by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. Some of the topics to be covered include how the city calculates mill rate, what is bonded money, and what is a tax deferral. City Councilman Andrew Wetmore, who is also Ridley-Lowell’s admissions representative, will lead the discussion.
Wetmore says he's been surprised by how many people don’t understand what the Probate Court does, what inflation and deflation mean, or what bankruptcy is. Everyday economic terms regarding government, taxes, investing and borrowing, he said, are often misunderstood.
The lecture is not intended to provide financial advice, but to provide a better understanding of basic language used in economics and how it applies to the average person.
The free lecture is from 5:45 to 7:30 pm.
The Annual Town Meeting in Ridgefield is being held Monday night at the Ridgefield Playhouse. First Selectman Rudy Marconi will make a budget presentation, followed by information from the Boards of Education and Finance. A vote on capital items under $100,000 will also be held. The Annual Town Meeting is set for 7:30pm Monday.
Some of the capital items include guard rail replacements, equipment such as a plow with sander and rotary mowers, Wellness Center improvements and work on the golf course.
A Public Hearing and Special Town Meeting are being held in Ridgefield Wednesday night. At 7:30, changes to the Ridgefield Code of Ordinances about Citations and Open Space Use will be discussed. There will also be a public hearing about A System Site Lease Agreement for Farmingville Elementary School Solar Panels.