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Sunday, January 3, 2010

FROM WALLINGFORD - It’s your town

As originially published online at and in the Sunday Record Journal print edition on January 3, 2010

There was a lot of activity in Wallingford over the course of 2009.

Updating the town website in compliance with House Bill No. 6502, parking issues on Center and Main streets and downtown in general, dredging project at Mackenzie Reservoir, to name just a few - there was a lot on Wallingford's plate at the beginning of the year.

The 2009 budget came along with work on the Reskin Drive bridge (which is still not completed, much to the chagrin of the residents in the area).

There was the cease-and-desist order given regarding the publishing to the web of the Government TV-produced-programs in April which included Town Council and other public meetings, despite the purchase of brand new remote-controlled cameras in the Town Council Chambers.

Charter Revision hearings were held and the finished topics were given some input from the council and the people. The final questions were delivered to the electorate where they were effectively summarily dismissed by the voters that turned out.

While it was one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent history for a local election, the ones that did come out spoke loudly - "steady as she goes on the charter; we are content with the governing playbook for the town."

Regardless of whether it was low turnout, charter revision questions, lack of a Democrat candidate for mayor or the fact that it was partly cloudy - voters changed the makeup of both the Town Council and the Board of Education for the next two years.

So, where are we headed for 2010?

Unfinished issues, such as the Choate proposal to build the Environmental Center and asking for the closure of Old Durham Road, will likely resurface.

Issues with downtown are still open for discussion and action - from the parking situation which hasn't gotten any better to the new overlay district being proposed.

There is the issue with the Police Department's needs for expansion. This will not occur this year; it needs further discussion because actions need to take place ahead of any proposed work.

Is the Wooding-Caplan property to be used for this cause, or another piece of property elsewhere?

If another property is chosen, you still have to address "what do we do with Wooding-Caplan"?

Budget season will be on us a lot faster than most would like, and with the education portion of the budget greater than 60 percent of the entire budget, it is going to be a difficult pill to swallow.

Wallingford will have to deal with local taxes in conjunction with less available state funding for prior programs.

How the upcoming revaluation will affect the mill rate and whether it impacts homeowners or businesses equally or throws one out of the current alignment with the other remains to be seen.

Wallingford has famously worked to budget to a certain degree the expected spend for the year and tries to hold that line, sometimes cutting back or out something to keep from going into the red.

The taxes need to be collected in order for spend to occur; this is going to be a big challenge this upcoming year, unlike anything Wallingford has seen in recent memory.

There are a lot of other things that are going to be coming up over the course of the year that I don't have the space to present.

Your say of what is to happen with your town didn't end at the voting booth this past November - it was just the start.

Make sure you stay informed and engaged all year. Make it a point to have your voice heard either to your representatives or through them. Have them base decisions which are representative of what you want. Do not have them make the decisions for you.

It's your town - get informed, get involved.

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