Flood insurance premiums for Trumbull residents will decrease and the town will receive technology including smart boards and iPads with approval to participate in a state program funded by a $1.6 million grant.
Five other towns will also be asked to participate: Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Stratford and Monroe. They have not voted yet.
The Trumbull Town Council approved the resolution 14-5. Voting against it were members Jeff Jenkins, Chadwick Ciocci, David Pia, Kristy Waizenegger (republicans) and John DelVecchio, a democrat.
Brian Bidolli, executive director of the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, said the insurance discount will range from five percent to 45 percent. The grant money was raised from taxes on rental cars and hotels.
"The town has a great Geographic Information System," Bidolli said. If all accept, the five communities will benefit with reduced-cost technology. If one community refuses to participate, Bidolli said he will ask another.
DelVecchio opened the comments speaking against the resolution. He said he voted against grant money to improve the Rails-to-Trail system, adding that New Jersey consistently refuses federal grants.
Connecticut is broke, and needs to start living within its means, DelVecchio said.
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First Selectman Tim Herbst said storms are the "new normal," and the technology will help deal with storm recovery in terms of cleaning up fallen trees and wires and coordinating crews.
The town has separate dispatching centers for the Police Department, Trumbull EMS and Trumbull fire departments. The town has used magic markers, white boards and paper notes to coordinate past cleanups, Herbst said.
"I understand the concern about living within our means," he said.
The council should approve it "in the interest of public safety," Herbst added. "If we don't take advantage of this, another community will."
"Technology is our best friend. It's our most useful tool," the first selectman said.
Without the grant, the technology would cost each town $300,000.
Ciocci, who opposes grants in principle, said the program would make all taxpayers subsidize flood insurance holders, including those in affluent towns.
Bidolli replied that it would help residents who are struggling to pay their flood insurance premiums.
The council debated whether to send the state a message to curb its spending, but should take grants first. "We can't accept the money and complain they give it away," he said.
But, Waizenegger argued that the money has to come from somewhere, and Connecticut would be borrowing it.
Herbst said he agreed that the state's spending is flawed, but reminded the council that the town gets many grants for roads and education cost sharing.
Martha Jankovic-Mark, who has disagreed with Herbst a lot lately, said she approved of the resolution.
James Meisner called it "money well-spent."
"It sounds like this a very rational use of the money," he said.
Jenkins called the program "very admirable" but said the state's debt burden will be unsustainable in less than eight years.