RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – Ridgefield saw positive economic growth in 2014, which is expected to continue this year, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said during a State of the Town Address on Friday.
Marconi made his remarks during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards Breakfast at the Silver Spring Country Club. The town put about $700,000 into its fund balance in 2014, and expects to add another $600,000 in 2015, Marconi said.
The town will spend about $1 million on snow removal this year, and Marconi expects to budget about the same amount on road improvements next year. The town was able to put away extra money in 2014 due to increased tax collections and the collections of past due accounts, he said. Many departments are seeing increased revenues. The town collected about $300,000 in conveyance due to increased real estate action.
“Real estate sales are up. I don’t think the value of homes have come up to where they were pre-recession, but the activity is certainly there,” Marconi said.
Parks and Recreation is another area that has seen increased revenue.
“That’s a good sign to us, because that’s disposable income. People come to Parks and Rec based on disposable income, and in ’08-09 we saw a tremendous drop-off in revenues. That was the first thing to go in addition to our conveyance taxes, but now it’s coming back strong. That’s good news,” he said.
The Board of Selectmen has voted on a budget increase of 2.5 percent, and the Board of Education has a budget increase of 2.61 percent. Marconi said the selectmen have recommended reducing the schools budget down to 2.43 percent, as expected electricity modifications will create efficiencies and reduce utility bills. If the $1 million for road improvements is taken out of the fund balance, he said that tax increases should stay below 1 percent.
Among the capital projects is $3.7 million to improve communications systems. The cell tower in the Ridgebury area is also expected to be completed this year, which will improve 911 calls in the area. Improvements will be made to parking at the Parks and Rec Center and Founders Hall, and work will begin on phase two of the gym at Town Hall.
Ridgefield has received a $1.1 million grant from the state to do work on a pedestrian and bike trail along Route 35.
“You will be able to walk, run, snowshoe, or bike from Parks and Rec down to Branchville, about 10 miles, which is something we need,” Marconi said. “That will be a great asset to our community.”
The town is also working to convert a building designed by Philip Johnson to a Maurice Sendak museum.
“That is something we feel, not only from a cultural aspect that will complement what we have in our community, but will also be a tremendous economic driver for our community and bring people to this town.”
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