From the Desk of the First Selectman

Posted on
April 24, 2024
Board Of Selectmen

Don Lowe First Selectman Column 04/22/2024

This Thursday, April 25 at 7 pm in Mallory Town Hall the Board of Selectmen (BOS) will hold its monthly regularly scheduled meeting. The agenda is posted on the newly designed website. Some of the items we will cover (though not limited to these items) are further discussions on the new pickleball courts and the Town Beach dock expansion project. We are also going to take on our storage space shortage here at Town Hall and possibly construct a storage shed on the Town Hall campus. We will be moving two capital projects to Town Meeting, one for the SVFD and the other for the Sherman School -- the latter being part of the roof recovery project (fixing the leaky roof) at the school.  
We held two Town Meetings last Saturday. The first was the Annual Town Budget meeting, a precursor to the May 4th referendum at Charter Hall from 8am to 8pm. Absentee ballots are available from the Town clerk’s office for that referendum in which voters will vote YES or NO on the Town Budget and on the Board of Education budget. Both budgets have a 3.8% increase; however, we experienced extra grand list revenue some of which is used to offset the budget increases. The total increase is 2%.   
As was explained at the budget meeting, while your taxes will increase 2%, there will be, for a few homeowners, some variation depending on the results of their property assessment reevaluation.  As mandated by the State, we do a “reval” every 5 years. Although the reval shows an increase (it generally does due to inflation), that in-and-of itself does not create a tax increase. The mill rate is adjusted downward to compensate for the increase in property values; hence, generally, a reval is a tax neutral situation. However, if a homeowner improved his or her property over the last 5 years and the revaluation was above the baseline reval, then a homeowner might experience an increase in taxes beyond the 2% that the budget brings. The mill rate for last year’s 2023/24 budget was 17.82. For the coming fiscal year, 2024/25, the mill rate decreases to 16.36.
In the second Town Meeting we approved all three items. The most provocative item (though it passed with only 3 NO votes out 30 people present) was the two YOUR SPEED indicators that we will be placing on Route 37 as one enters Sherman from either direction on Route 37. This is an effort, among others that we employ, to curtail speeding on our roads and to keep Sherman as safe as possible.  
In last week’s column, I wrote a paragraph about short-term rentals (Airbnb; VRBO, etc.) and I plan to continue that topic in future columns. In that column, when I referenced ways in which people can contribute to the community, I listed a few key volunteer roles and also mentioned having children in our school. One reader somehow interpreted my list as exclusive and that I was saying those were the ONLY ways to contribute to Sherman. This individual was highly offended. Of course, I was simply illustrating a few ways in which people might contribute to their community. 
Forthrightly, all taxpayers contribute to the communities in which they live. Paying taxes, in itself, shows care for one’s community. I wasn’t trying to single out that anyone was any better than anyone else, and this person’s take on what I wrote astounded me. However, if one person misinterpreted my writing, then chances are someone else did too. So. For the record. Whether a taxpaying citizen is up to his or her elbows in Town activities or whether the person is a taxpaying recluse, they ALL contribute to the well-being of Sherman in their own ways.   
By the way, the Sherman Commission for the Arts is still looking for a meeting clerk – the person who keeps the minutes. It’s a paid position and a great way to get acquainted with Town government.  
A quote from Robert Frost: “In three words I can sum up all that I have learned in life: It goes on.”