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Board Of Finance Elects Leadership, Appoints Committee Members – The Newtown Bee

At its first meeting since Election Day, Board of Finance members elected Republican John Madzula II as chairman and Republican colleague Chandravir Ahuja vice-chairman.

The December 13 meeting also saw Republican Geoffrey Dent and Democrat Erica Sullivan named to a joint committee with the Board of Selectmen and the Legislative Council to discuss possible uses for any remaining American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds. Democrat Laura Miller and Republican Steven Goodridge were similarly named to a joint committee with members of the two other boards charged with evaluating local recycling cost increases.

Ahuja, in nominating Madzula as chair, said he did so because of Madzula’s previous experience on boards — Madzula previously held a seat on the Conservation Commission and is the only full-term incumbent on the Board of Finance. Shortly before he won a full term in November, Ahuja was appointed to the finance board to fill a vacancy.

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal in his first selectman report explained the recycling and ARP issues to the mostly new members of the board and said that a joint committee will help create a “continuity of thought” between the three bodies, rather than them meeting at separate times and forming separate plans.

“We should get tacit agreement and then bring it back to the separate bodies,” said Rosenthal.

Newtown received $7.5 million in ARP funds, and has already allocated $2.5 million of that amount for the Hawley School HVAC project. It is now looking at how to distribute the rest of that money.

According to the US Department of the Treasury, ARP funds can be used by the town for the following:

*Support public health expenditures, by, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral health care, and certain public health and safety staff.

*Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency, including economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector.

*Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to the pandemic.

*Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.

*Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, support vital wastewater and storm water infrastructure, and to expand access to broadband internet.

“Within these overall categories, recipients have broad flexibility to decide how best to use this funding to meet the needs of their communities,” states the treasury website.

Rosenthal at previous meetings noted that the ARP requires anything that funds are used for not be a “recurring item” — so for instance a new position with a salary would not be an approved use of the money. Any recurring items would have to be funded by the town’s normal operating budget in future years. Additionally, ARP funding cannot be applied directly to the budget as revenue to directly reduce the mill rate.

Finance Director Robert Tait said at a previous meeting that the ARP disbursed $1.56 billion to counties and towns, and $3.93 billion to residents across the country. Of the town’s $7.6 million share of the money, it received half, or $3.8 million, this year and the other half will be available for spending next year.

The recycling issue came up this fall when the town said its recycling pick-up would be facing an increase from $550,000 to $1,019.290 million. The town then negotiated a smaller increase from its current contractors, Pendergast and Oakridge, of $137,449 to continue weekly pick-ups for a period from November 1 through July 1, 2022.

Town ordinance requires that the routes be divided among a minimum of two vendors.

The bidding process was done after the town was approached by one of its contractors for an increase in fees. Since a municipality cannot approve such an increase without opening a bidding process, it had to go to bid. When the bids came in high, the town began negotiating with the vendors hoping to lower costs.

The $137,449 increase to $687,449 will mean that the town’s recycling pick-up line item in the budget will only increase by roughly 30 percent, as opposed to nearly 100 percent, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told The Newtown Bee on October 25.

The Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, and Legislative Council, in a joint meeting October 20 held in closed session because it involved a municipal contract, adjourned from the executive session and unanimously approved the increase.

The action buys the town additional time to figure out the best long-term solution to recycling pick-up. That could mean ending municipally provided recycling pick-ups altogether, leaving residents to deal with private vendors for pick-up.

If pick-ups are no longer offered, the town would need to provide increased ability to drop off recycling at the transfer station by increasing operating hours.

The town may also look at decreasing the weekly pick-ups to bi-weekly or monthly.

Rosenthal said that 43 percent of Newtown households participate in recycling pick-ups. Newtown pays a monthly fee for every household.


Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at

Newly elected Board of Finance (BOF) Chairman John Madzulla II pats his new Vice-Chair Chandravir Ahuja on the back as First Selectman Dan Rosenthal looks on during the first meeting of the panel December 13. On Election Day, voters seated four new BOF members — Geoffrey Dent, Erica Sullivan, Steven Goodridge, and Laura Miller — who joined incumbents Madzulla and Ahuja.