Weston officials discuss tax windfall, youth services, social services resignation

The following are issues discussed at recent meetings of the Weston Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance.

Good news from Hartford

Weston Finance Director Rick Darling presented a bit of good news at a meeting of the Board of Finance.

He said Weston will receive approximately $334,000 in educational cost-sharing (ECS) funding from the state’s recently approved budget.

“In the big picture, if you go back four years, we were at about $1.5 million in state revenue,” said Darling. He said the state also did not impose cost-sharing for teachers’ pensions on municipalities that Gov. Dannel Malloy had proposed in 2017.

Norwalk service agreement

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved an agreement with the city of Norwalk, in which Norwalk’s Juvenile Review Board (JRB) will provide youth services to Weston. “This is important on a number of fronts,” said First Selectman Chris Spaulding. “We are always talking about ways where we can share services, and Norwalk has a vast criminal justice infrastructure. We have a police department, and that’s about it.

“The police have been lobbying for years to have a juvenile review board option, and it’s much more cost effective to outsource it [to Norwalk than to do it internally],” Spaulding said.

Under the agreement, youth referrals will go to the Norwalk JRB from the Weston Police Department, the town’s Youth Services Department and the school system.

Under the present system, Weston police have just two options for minors who commit crimes. If they go through the court system, they are likely to end up with a criminal record — which can create problems in securing eventual employment. Yet, setting them free often results in their commission of more serious crimes.

The JRB provides them with a third option, which commits the young person to a degree of monitoring, counseling and community service. In exchange, the youth would need to sign a letter acknowledging his or her wrongdoing and agreeing to the terms of service.

For the first year, Weston will be able to refer 12 young people to the JRB. “We won’t have any problem filling that, unfortunately,” Spaulding said. “This will be much better for those kids in the end and much better for the town. We’ve re-started our Children and Youth Commission in order to manage this and take some of the load off the police.”

“Norwalk has provided this service to Westport and it’s going really well,” said Town Administrator Jonathan Luiz. “We’ve talked to the court in Westport and they’re highly satisfied with it.”

Appointments and resignations

The Board of Selectmen approved the resignation of Charlene Chiang-Hillman, director of Weston Social Services. She is retiring on Sept. 30.

The board also approved the resignation of Scott Licamele from the town’s Sustainability Committee.

The board approved the appointments of Jodi Stevens Bryce and Brooke Valenti to the Weston Commission for the Arts.

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