REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2012
Little citizen interest shown at hearing on school budget
Only two people spoke during a poorly attended hearing on the proposed school budget for fiscal year 2012-13 on Tuesday night. The Board of Education’s Finance Subcommittee recommended a $63.2 million operating budget for next year, the same number that Superintendent Greg Florio proposed earlier this month. The number represents a $1.8 million or 3 percent increase over the current year’s budget. “It’s a responsible budget and more than fair,” Finance Committee Chairman Anthony Perugini said. Florio’s budget adds three teachers to help with a surge in enrollment at Doolittle Elementary School, which saw first and third grade classes increase to as many as 25 students each. The Board of Education votes on the budget on Thursday at a meeting at Dodd Middle School at 7:30 p.m. WAT E R B U R Y
Blight crew hits city streets
Scovill Homes President James Monroe addresses the large audience that filled the auditorium at Walsh Elementary School in Waterbury on Tuesday night. The forum was held to involve the public in a new anti-blight offensive aimed to clean up the WOW neighborhood.
CHRISTOPHER MASSA REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Task force: Enforcement starts in the community
BY ANDREW LARSON
WATERBURY — The city’s newly formed Blight Task Force is focusing its initial efforts on the Walnut-Orange-Walsh community, but says it needs neighbors’ help to effect lasting change. The blight-fighting team, which includes members of the city’s police, fire, health and zoning departments, has deployed cleanup crews,
conducted inspections and issued citations against offending landlords. But the sustainability of the initiative rests largely in the hands of those who live in the blight-ridden neighborhoods. “The excitement and motivation starts within these walls, but it has to go way beyond these walls,” Mayor Neil M. O’Leary told an au-
See BLIGHT, Page 6B
O’Leary fills 3 seats on panel that divides up federal money
Mayor Neil M. O’Leary has filled three vacant seats on the advisory committee that hands out federal block grants. O’Leary appointed mayoral aides Aulona Hoxha and Saranda Bellica and Aldermanic President Paul Pernerewski to the Citizen Advisory Committee. One open seat remains on the 14-person board. The committee recommends how to divvy up the city’s share of U.S. Housing and Urban Development community block grants. This year the committee must decide how to split up $2,470,851 in federal grants among city agencies and local nonprofit service providers. That is 17 percent less than the current allocation. WAT E R B U R Y
HEALTH CONCERNS IN NAUGATUCK
Applications available soon for homeowners program
Applications for the elderly and disabled homeowners program will be available from Feb. 1 through May 15. To qualify, single applicants can earn a maximum of $32,300. The income limitations for applicants who are married is $39,500. Applicants must supply financial documents, such as latest income tax returns, a 1099A Social Security form, W-2 forms and end-of-year pension statements. Veterans exemptions will also be accepted at the same time, although those applications can be turned in through Oct. 1. The same income limits apply. OX F O R D
PHOTOS BY STEVEN VALENTI REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Overtime funds approved for Planning and Zoning
The Board of Finance on Monday voted unanimously to reinstate the Planning and Zoning Department’s overtime line item with a transfer of $1,200. The board voted to approve the transfer from the Planning and Zoning Commission’s contracted services/enforcement line item to the overtime line item. Board of Finance Chairwoman Lila Ferrillo said the board approved the transfer with the stipulation that it be used for only major land use applications. It’s not standard overtime, but for emergency use, she said. This follows the Board of Selectmen’s decision last week, which voted to reinstate the department’s overtime line item and approved the transfer based on a request it received Jan. 11 from Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman William Johnson. Jessica Pennell, the Planning and Zoning Department’s administrative secretary, said now she will ask the Board of Selectmen to have her old hours returned. According to the letter, the commission asked for the overtime line item to be reinstated so Pennell could perform what is required by her union contract and job description. The overtime line item was removed from the department during the last budget cycle. SEYMOUR
Emidio Cerasale of Naugatuck moves a refrigerator in a neighbor’s apartment to show the mold growing on the wall behind it at the Oak Terrace apartment complex in Naugatuck on Tuesday. People are complaining of mold at the complex, which is run by the Naugatuck Housing Authority.
HOUSING TENANTS SAY MOLD TAKING OVER BOROUGH COMPLEX
BY ALIA MALIK
NAUGATUCK — A powerful stench of mildew greets visitors the moment they step into Unit 1A of the Oak Terrace public housing complex. Mold has taken hold of the apartment since Sherrill Whitelaw, 69, moved in six years ago, she said. Black mold is visible behind the refrigerator, is staining the bathtub and has destroyed shoes in the closet and a Bible on a shelf. “I’m coughing and sneezing,” Whitelaw said. “It makes me ill. ... Most of my friends don’t even come in. They just talk to me at the door.” Whitelaw is not the only one, according to members of the recently formed West Side Neighborhood Association, which includes neighbors of the complex at 53 Conrad St. Members say they have visited and heard from other Oak Terrace residents in mold-infested apartments. Whitelaw said she knows three peo-
Emidio Cerasale of Naugatuck shows mold that grew on his neighbor’s Bible in a closet at the Oak Terrace apartment complex in Naugatuck Tuesday.
ple who moved out because of the mold. Emidio Cerasale, the neighborhood association’s president, has talked to residents and has concerns about 10 of the 37 buildings in the complex. Sharon Hebb, 72, of 136 Conrad St., said she noticed mold while visiting several residents as a physical therapist for the Visiting Nurses’ Association before she retired last year. One man’s foot wound would not heal due to the mildew in his carpet, Hebb said. “In one case, you didn’t even have to pull the refrigerator out,” Hebb said. “The whole side of the refrigerator that was visible, without moving it, was black.” The state funds the complex of 194 apartments, open to seniors and the disabled with low incomes and managed by the Naugatuck Housing Authority. Whitelaw’s complaint was the only one Executive Director Kevin G. Knowles said he could remember. She
See MOLD, Page 6B
Water main break affects 110 Aquarion Water customers
About 110 Aquarion Water Co. customers were affected after an eight-inch water main break on Colony Road on Tuesday morning. The break was reported about 8:30 a.m., and a contractor responded to the site, said Bruce Silverstone, a spokesman for Aquarion Water Co. The cause of the break wasn’t available.
Region 15 can’t afford O’LEARY DROPS THE BALL, cuts, despite decline PICKS DATE FOR A PICNIC
BY PENELOPE OVERTON
MORE NEWS INSIDE
Higher tax-collection rate?
Southbury’s perennially high tax-collection rate might be higher this year. PAGE 3B
Sippy says funds would cover costs
BY MATTHEW O’ROURKE
Fish bypass funding at stake
Seymour could lose $2.5 million in funding to build a fish bypass project if a few key signatures aren’t obtained. PAGE 2B
>>> DEATHS ON PAGE 2B
SOUTHBURY — Although the Region 15 school district’s student population has dropped by 202 students since last year, officials say the school district’s budget may not be reduced dramatically. In a presentation to the Board of Education Monday, Superintendent of Schools Frank H. Sippy cautioned members against making significant budget reductions solely based
on enrollment changes. Under his estimation, about “80 to 85” percent of the current budget $60.25 million budget would remain in place regardless of student fluctuations, due to contractual and state obligations, fuel and electricity costs and transportation. “I’m not here with an elaborate explanation trying to make a case that we’re not going to make reductions,” Sippy said. “We are going to make reductions, but we’re going to do it based on a lot of data points and not just a simple formula.” Sippy began looking at the impact of enrollment changes See ENROLL, Page 6B
O’Leary said Tuesday at an inaugural ball committee meeting. WATERBURY — Mayor If the economy has been unNeil M. O’Leary has canceled kind to Marriott, it has been plans for his inaugural ball, just as cruel, if not more so, to preferring to hold a many out-of-work community picnic in residents, O’Leary May instead. said. There was no one Many hard-workreason for the caning taxpayers wouldcellation. n’t have been able to His preferred venafford to shell out ue, the Courtyard by hundreds for ball Marriott hotel, plans tickets and then rent CONTRIBUTED to pay its $768,225 or buy formal wear, back city tax debt by O’Leary O’Leary said. Feb. 10, but there’s “I don’t like the no guarantee, said coordinator idea of shutting them out,” he Garrett Casey. said. “There’s just no way I’m goEven those well-heeled ing to hold the ball at a place that owes the city taxes,” See PICNIC, Page 6B