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Norwalk political notes: New hire, proposed bill, community conversations

The SoNo Collection on Sunday. A bill proposed by State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-11) would provide Norwalk with .3 percent sales tax from the mall.

Detail of a rendering of The SoNo Collection, showing the garden planned for the corner of West Avenue and the Interstate 95 on ramp.

Updated, 10:33 a.m.: Copy edits

NORWALK, Conn. —Some Norwalk political news for you:

  • Norwalk set to name a new DPW chief
  • Norwalk Dem legislators holding community conversation
  • Proposed bill would send some sales tax revenue to municipalities
  • ‘Do not enter’ Chestnut Street
  • A send-off for Chimento

 

 

From White Plains to Norwalk

Mayor Harry Rilling has selected Anthony Robert Carr to be Norwalk Chief of Operations and Public Works, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

Department of Public Works Director Bruce Chimento retired in September. Carr will be Norwalk’s first Chief of Operations and Public Works, a position created in the recent reorganization.

Carr has been Deputy Commissioner of Public Works and City Engineer for White Plains since October 2015, overseeing 55 Public Works staff members and managing a $22.5 million operating budget, he states in his January letter to Rilling. He was Commissioner of Public Works for the Village of Croton-on-Hudson from January 2015 to October 2015, and village engineer for Mamaroneck from March 2013 to January 2015.

He’s been a United States Coast Guard reserve officer since January 2011, and a Lieutenant Junior Grade since May 2016, his resume states. He received a Bachelor in Science in Civil Engineering from Clarkson University in 2002 and is a licensed professional engineer in New York and Connecticut as well as a certified floodplain manager.

“I possess a dedicated work ethic and believe in applying multiple approaches and resources to ‘solve  the problem,’” Carr wrote to Rilling. “I am open-minded, eager to take on complex projects and challenges for personal and professional development. I believe in cultivating a team environment and remain focused during high stress situations such as personnel matters. I have a vast understanding of municipal government organization, Public Works operations, operating and capital project budget preparation and monitoring and management of a variety of personnel.”

 

 

 

 

Community Conversation with Dem legislators

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and State Reps. Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142), Chris Perone (D-137) and Travis Simms (D-140) are meeting with the public Tuesday evening in City Hall.

The Community Conversation will take place from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room.

 

 

 

Sales tax bill would send .3 cents per dollar of mall revenue to Norwalk

A bill proposed by State Senate President Pro Tempore  Martin Looney (D-New Haven) would increase Connecticut’s sales tax rate by .5 percent and send additional revenue to municipalities.  If passed, Norwalk could receive three-tenths of each penny spent at the SoNo Collection mall currently under construction and slated for completion in October.

“Looney said the Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the .5 percent increase would bring in an additional $350 million per year which, he says, would then be returned to the municipalities from which the sales tax was collected,” Yankee Institute reports.

One catch: all of that .5 percent would go to the municipalities it was collected in, except in the case of a regional shopping center, i.e., a mall, like The SoNo Collection.

Norwalk would receive 60 percent of the mall’s additional .5 percent and 40 percent would go to “municipality or municipalities contiguous to,” the bill states.

“The bill is in only in proposal form at this point and Looney deferred to the judgement of the Finance Committee in crafting the details, but probably the biggest question facing the proposal would be the state’s poor history of returning tax revenue to municipalities – a history Looney acknowledged,” Yankee Institute reports. “…the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities offered testimony in support of the tax increase, feeling the gamble with the state is worth it.”

The Yankee Institute is a conservative think tank which, according to its website, advocates for “smart, limited government; fairness for taxpayers; and an open road to opportunity.”  The organization’s director of public policy opposed the bill in its current form, but would support the proposal if the tax were voluntary, paired with property tax relief, and included guarantees that the revenue would be returned to municipalities.

 

 

 

Chestnut Street safety, traffic flow, improved

“To help ensure safe routes to school for students, motorists, and pedestrians near Columbus Magnet School and Side By Side Charter School, new digital ‘Do Not Enter’ signs have been installed,” a Feb. 28 press release from Norwalk Communications Manager Joshua Morgan said.

The signs at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Concord Street and the intersection of Chestnut Street and Henry Street operate when students are coming and going from the schools, prohibiting northbound traffic from Concord Street to Monroe Street, he explained.

“This is about the safety of students, drivers, and pedestrians. The area gets incredibly busy when students are coming and going, and the new signage will help alleviate some of these concerns,” Rilling is quoted as saying. “After listening to feedback from the public and police, something had to be done. I appreciate the Department of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking for analyzing the traffic in the area and implementing these changes.”

The digital signs are powered by solar panels, he wrote.

Good news: “Chestnut Street between Henry Street and Monroe Street – an area that is currently one-way – will reopen to two-way travel at all other hours of the day which will improve traffic flow in the area,” he wrote.

 

 

Chimento retirement fun

Speaking of Chimento, NancyOnNorwalk recently tripped over a YouTube retirement tribute posted in September. Enjoy:

12 comments

David T McCarthy March 11, 2019 at 10:32 am

Disappointed to see a very qualified female candidate, with a much greater amount of experience in Norwalk and in general, passed over for someone with no large city experience. As with other appointments, the administration seems to go out of its way to find less than optimal candidates….or at least one’s that present as such (I have no direct knowledge of the actual candidate, and mean no offense)

Piberman March 11, 2019 at 11:33 am

White plains population 60,000. Nowalk population 90,000. Mayor Rilling continues to avoid Prof. Search seeking Top Talent for Norwalk from large cities. Again demonstrating the costs of electing City officials without business backgrounds when seeking senior City Dept Head appointments. But look at the bright side. At least we’re not hiring an Economic Director from tiny Newtown pop. 10,000. Why couldn’t Mayor Rilling hire a major City DPW candidate ? Just keeping City Hall friendly ?

AL March 11, 2019 at 11:36 am

Martin Looney is having a party at our expense and Hartford is just getting started. Taking and taxing is what they do best and because we have single party rule it will not end.
Malloy drove us into the abyss. Ned and this legislature will explore new depths.

PNolin March 11, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Then Senator Genuario proposed a .5% sales tax rebate to towns generating the sales in the early 90s. I think Alex Knopp did the same at one point thereafter. So we should not hold our breaths. But it makes sense that towns that provide services for shoppers to avail themselves of retail resources should get reimbursed for the traffic, police and other costs they incur. In Norwalk we would recoup a lot from out of town shoppers, which could lower our property taxes.

Isabelle Hargrove March 11, 2019 at 1:27 pm

@pnolin – I agree. I wish the current legislature and Governor had taken a more holistic approach to restructuring our tax code. Close the sales tax loopholes, allow municipalities to charge a 1% sales tax to help city lower their crushing, regressive property taxes and pay for the infrastructure of their retail hubs small towns use – BUT lower the state sales tax to compensate. As an example, the mall 1st-year projections of $575M in sales @1%, would generate $5.7M in revenue for Norwalk with 90% of sales in the mall coming from non-Norwalkers.

Ron Morris March 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Piberman

I and most would agree that this is a good hire from the city of White Plains. It seems that no matter what Mayor Rilling does you will continues to use the same old worn out fact less copy and paste.

AL March 11, 2019 at 3:33 pm

I was not clear on the sale tax change…it looked like Norwalk would get on 60% the 1% increase.
I just drove by the new mall site.
Sorry folks…enjoy it while it is there. They will put other brick and mortar locations out of business (Stamford will be first)and then, they too will fail.

Mike Mushak March 11, 2019 at 11:04 pm

@ Piberman and Ron Morris, was there an answer as to why the professional business experience of Peter Berman was missing on the website you both referenced in another post?

I’m curious what Mr. Berman’s professional business expertise might be, as according to Mr. Berman pretty much the entire planet is under-qualified to their jobs.

I’m sure the readers of both NoN and the Hour would like to know, as Mr. Berman sure spends a lot of time on both sites trash-talking a lot of good people who devote their lives to making Norwalk better.

On that note, what has Mr. Berman done to make Norwalk a better community? I don’t recall ever seeing him or hearing of him volunteer for anything, not even to serve coffee at a neighborhood cleanup which many of the folks he trashes show up to quite often.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Mr Berman has devoted his life to improving communities in Norwalk, in which case I will be the first to thank him. Just never heard of him showing up except to trash everyone who does roll up their sleeves and work hard.

Please, Mr. Berman, answer with your professional business experience that qualifies you to judge what appears to be the entire world.

Nancy Chapman March 11, 2019 at 11:46 pm

Al, the proposal is a .5% increase. The City would get 60% of that .5%, if this proposal is approved as currently written. the other 40% would go to surrounding communities, which, theoretically, would have residents spending money in the mall.

Piberman March 12, 2019 at 7:41 am

It’s long been the standard of superior management in both public and private sectors to hire the very best talent available. That typitically requries use of Prof. Search. Mike Lyons – a major league corporate attorney – understands that. As does the BOE. So they use Prof. Search with superb results for our BOE.

Mayor Rilling, and our Common Council, appear to lack basic business experience and knowledge of business management techniques. So they happily avoid Prof. Search, use soft search, avoid hiring Top Talent and we homeowners pay the price. Danbury manages to provide City services 30% less per capita than Norwalk. As long as Mayor Rilling an the Council like to hire from small towns and cities to serve why worry ? We just pay unnecessarily higher taxes and even our City employees avoid living in our City citing our high taxes.

Norwalk surely gets the governance it deserves. And as long as voters do not demand much more professional City governance we’ll unnecessarily pay much higher taxes than required under conventional professional management. Compentence in City management follows the same principles as in the private sector. Success comes from hiring the best people available. Neither Mayor Rilling nor previous Mayors have done that. So there’s room for improvement. Not a GOP or Dem issue. Just a matter of management competence that ought be “standard fare” with a $365 million budget !

Any colle

AL March 12, 2019 at 8:55 am

Hopefully it remains a “proposal”. Makes no sense to me.I am not being anti-tax…I was a huge supporter, back in the day, for the very unpopular special tax in the Bay Area that was tied to BART. This? Not even close.

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