Trumbull Public Works Director John Marsilio reduced a $250,000 early estimate for a generator to $150,000, to the approval of the Town Council.
Despite some fear that the town's self-imposed "credit limit" would be reached, the Council approved the generator but removed $36,000 for tennis court maintenance.
Breaching the threshold means the possible downgrade of Trumbull's credit rating from AA2, a notch below AAA. That means higher borrowing costs. Trumbull's credit rating remained unchanged last year despite other Fairfield County neighbors' ratings being lowered.
Councilman Thomas Whitmoyer said some items should have been put in the operating budget.
A $150,000 "Insurance Policy"
The generator is part of the Public Works Department's capital bonding request. Bonded items are expected to last about 20 years but the town can issue shorter term bonds on items with shorter useful lives.
The Board of Finance had removed the generator but Marsilio's argument swayed the council.
"People turn to during emergencies," he said.
The council had questioned the $250,000 figure but Marsilio said it was an "arbitrary" early estimate without any actual plans drawn up. "This isn't for a Cadillac generator," he said.
Marsilio recalled all the storms in 2011. Last August, Town Hall "was inundated with people."
Luckily, Town Hall had not lost power at the time. "They just gravitated to Town Hall. I don't have an ax to grind here. I'm just telling you what happened."
Trumbull's Bond Counsel Joseph Fasi said bonds can be adjusted if all the money is not used.
Councilman Tony Scinto compared the town's emergency systems to a row of dominoes. When one falls, the others fall afterward, he said.
Marsilio apologized for the situation, adding that the generator is a "worthwhile project."
Councilman David Pia called it an insurance policy. "I've certainly changed my mind [in favor]," Pia said.
The plan was approved 16-3.
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Meanwhile, a proposed false alarm ordinance was tabled for more tweaking but Police Chief Thomas Kiely said the ordinance was urgent.
"It's just reducing the call volume. We're doing 2,800 false alarm calls a year. Our call volume is increasing," he said. "We're chasing these calls all over the place."
That means quality-of-life issues such as speeding are neglected, the chief said.
"We're going to give our citizens better service" after the ordinance is approved, Kiely said. "We want high visibility. We want you to see a police car."
The proposal bars the use of an alarm system for anything but an emergency, and bars the use of an audible alarm system that can sound continually for more than 10 minutes.
Alarm system users are urged to register their system and failure means a $100 fine each year. Fines are also imposed after two false alarms. One free pass is also given if the user takes an alarm awareness class beforehand.
Third, fourth and fifth violations carry $100 fines; $125 for sixth, seventh and eighth; and $150 for ninth and further violations.
In addition to being first responders to all medical calls, each false alarm incident pulls two officers off the street, Kiely said. At the end of the year, that amounts to the loss of two officers.
Other municipalities have alarm ordinances, the chief noted.