Honorary Member who serves as First Selectman updates club on state of the Town.

Thanking the audience for inviting him, First Selectman Michael Freda gave his annual update on the state of the Town to the North Haven Rotary Club. The honorary Rotarian compared the spirit of Rotary to his own goal for local government; that is, to work across party lines while advancing the community agenda in order to enhance the life of its residents. He went on to describe what he sees as numerous successes, as well as a few setbacks over the past few years, adding that “There’s still some work to do.” 

Although 2013 promises to be a particularly difficult year for the town, he said that he is aware that this is true across the state, but he remains focused on North Haven. He emphasized that this year will be a transition period for the community due to a projected loss of approximately $440,000 in state revenue.  Fortunately, the Town be entering the fiscal year with a surplus of $750,000 and expects that it will have to use some of that to compensate for the loss of the state funding. Freda indicated that despite the lower fund balance, “We will continue to adhere to the 8% balance which is recommended by the town’s auditors” adding, “However, we will need to make it up somewhere to maintain services”. 

Mr. Freda explained that the transfer of real estate to non-profits seriously impacts the budget, giving the example of Anthem/Blue Cross, once a major taxpayer, selling its property to Quinnipiac University which is tax exempt, although the state will provide a partial offset through Pilot funds at 44%. He also referenced the complex that Yale-New Haven Hospital purchased and renovated which provides invaluable services, but resulted in another loss of revenue.

The CEO pointed out the perennial struggle over the desire of residents to keep all of the services they are accustomed to, but not wanting a tax increase.  Indicating that this balancing act is not always possible, he cited the example of the proposal to eliminate fall leaf removal last year which caused turmoil and over 2000 calls from residents. In order to provide necessary funding for education, which increases annually due to contractual agreements, he said that it may require a 1.56 mill increase.

The administration continues to meet with the unions attempting to increase cost sharing and higher co-pays for medical insurance although contracts have already been signed with the Police and Fire Departments in which new hires will not be pension eligible as the Town changes to 401K or 457 plans. The good news, however, is that existing pensions are fully funded, unlike most towns in the state.

As for the future, Freda quoted “Through dark clouds, there is some sunshine,” stating that there is a “lot in the pipeline”. He summed this up explaining that Quinnipiac University is now moving its Law School to the North Haven Campus to join the Medical School which should be very beneficial to northern Washington Avenue. Yale New Haven Hospital and the associated medical facilities are continuing to build on Devine Street. There is a proposal to build taxable post-graduate student housing on Washington Avenue and there is a possibility of some senior housing on State Street, as well as a large number of housing units on the east side of town and condominiums in the Half Mile Road area