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DINE New Hartford - Week 4 Winners Announced »

DINE New Hartford promotion has concluded with rave reviews from businesses and winners alike.  Week 3...

Monday - Thursday: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Tax Office: opens at 9:00 am daily

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First Selectman’s Corner – March 19, 2021

I frequently refer to the administration of our local town government operations as a long distance marathon.  Of course there are daily Town Hall services (permits, etc.) and Public Works functions we always provide that are combined with a mix of short and long term projects (or goals) that we mix in along the way.  It can be a long and grueling process to keep up a sufficient “pace” to make progress….and in certain circumstances there are hurdles we must overcome to continue our path forward.  Frequently…an unforeseen event: a winter storm, power outage or another emergency throws us a curve ball…and forces us to shift gears quickly to focus our energy on the immediate pressing needs of our community - while other items have to be set aside.  We pride ourselves on being flexible…and always willing to put the needs of our community right up front where they belong.

Well, it was right about this time last year when news of the Covid-19 virus began to spread.  Like every small town in Connecticut we were in the midst of our annual budget process when the shutdown hit and the world stopped!   Without the ability to get our Boards and Commissions together….or for that matter our residents - progress slowed as did the world around us.  Hard to believe it’s been a year…filled with quarantines, masks, remote learning and more recently scheduling of vaccinations for many residents.

Last year’s budget process was remarkable in that we quickly switched to a virtual “Zoom” format...and the Board of Finance approved a budget for the first time in history without a vote of the people (by the authority granted by Governor’s Executive Order).  It was a difficult challenge, but we got through it together – and moved our Town forward. 

Now, a full year later, virtual meetings have become the norm…and once again, our budget process is back in full swing.  Last Saturday we had our first preview and more meetings will be held in the coming weeks before we all vote in May.  For those of you interested in the process, our annual Public Budget Hearing will be held on April 6, 2021 and the town budget drafts: including the NH local Board of Education, Regional 7 and Town Government budgets are all posted on the town’s website for your review (www.newhartfordct.gov).

Similarly, at about the same time last year, our town was nearing completion on public presentations for the proposed sale of our water and waste water assets to Aquarion Water Company for $8,000,000.  Without the ability to connect with our residents we slowed the process down for a few months.  Ultimately, the committee reconvened in July 2020 and decided to press on.  After several more public presentations and town meetings, the proposed sale was put to the voters earlier this month (on March 6, 2021) and was approved at referendum ending a near five (5) year study process.  I’m thankful for the dedicated service of our AET (Asset Evaluation Team) members: Bud Butler, Joe Toro, Tom Hart and Kim Estep who spent many volunteer hours researching the proposal and getting it before our residents.  Thank You! 

Of course with this approval comes more work…both administrative and legal…and so we continue with the “race” to continue to make progress over the coming months as we meet with State Officials to gain their approval at “PURA” (the Public Utility Regulatory Authority).  I continue to strongly believe that the sale will put the town on a safe footing for many years to come and will ultimately bring lower rates to our New Hartford residents who use the system – something we all have sought for many years.

As things begin to return to normal...2021 brings much more for New Hartford residents.  The Board of Selectmen, aware of the impact Covid-19 has had on our local restaurants, has worked with our Economic Development Commission to launch “DINE New Hartford.”  This local contest is focused on drawing more support to our local eateries who have suffered for the better part of the last year.  Gift certificates will be drawn weekly for those who support our local businesses.  Look for the blue “DINE” signs in local restaurants or check out the town website for more information. 

Also on the horizon - our parks and beaches are being prepared for summer fun...and our Rails to Trails Committee is excited for the return of “in person” meetings so that the planning for our new multi-use recreational trail can continue its path toward approval and development.  Like the popular riverfront “Butler Trail” along the Farmington River, this new recreational trail could bring tons of fun to New Hartford residents in the near future.

I continue to encourage all residents to make use of our town’s website to stay informed of upcoming town events.  Over the next week or so, we’ll be posting information on the Summer Concert Series and the return of the Race Around the Lake.  Please take the opportunity to “subscribe” to Town News and Announcements.  It’s easy and will bring information right into your home via email. 

Additionally, feel free to email me directly with any questions you might have (djerram@newhartfordct.gov), I’m always here to help.

Stay safe and enjoy the warmer Spring weather!

Dan Jerram, First Selectman