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Tolland Voters Say Yes to Geothermal HVAC at Hicks

The referendum regarding a geothermal HVAC system at Hicks passed, 683-480

The vote is in! Tolland voters have given town officials the authority to replace the at Hicks Memorial Municipal Center and Library with a geothermal system.

According to Michael Wyman, of the Registrar of Voters, the referendum passed, 683-480.

The 1,164 residents voting represented 11.90 percent of eligible voters, said Wyman.

gives town officials authority to set aside $3.6 million for the installation of a Geothermal HVAC System in the Hicks Municipal Center and Library. The town has that may offset up to 70 percent of interest costs associated with financing the project, Town Manager Steven R. Werbner said.

marie cohen February 16, 2011 at 04:48 AM
I seem to recall that several recent annual budget referendums which were overwhelmingly defeated were widely disputed as they were voted upon by less than 30% of Tolland's registered voters. Would it be appropriate to raise these concerns in this case, or perhaps that the timing of the vote might have been by design, in order to maximize the impact of those standing to directly benefit from a low turnout? It was surmised that parents of school-age children may have been on vacation or spending time at their summer homes, and therefore the outcome may have been tainted. Could it now be argued that senior taxpayers were vacationing in sunnier climes, and therefore this miserable turnout should be rejected as invalid? Minds which think critically want to know!!
Renée Canada February 16, 2011 at 06:50 AM
Marie, I know the timing of the vote was also a concern to a couple members of the Council beforehand as well.
B Smith February 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM
I would have to echo the sentiments of the first comment on this vote. It would seem that this was staged so that a minimal voter turnout wold work in the favor of the proponents of this project. Where is the study on the payback on this system? Going green is certainly in vogue, and in fact better for the environment. That being said, how can we justify coming up with$3.6 million for a project with questionable return, when the town is currently grossly over budget due to the winter we've had, and has continually voted to cut programs that our school age kids would benefit from? This has not been well publisized by any means, and should be brought up as a topic to vote on when the budget referendum comes up in the spring. This referendum is not valid, and should be overturned pending a revote in the spring along with the rest of the budgetary considerations. B. Smith
ref February 16, 2011 at 01:36 PM
It's done. The people have voted accordingly. Those who did not vote, didn't care one way or the other. There have been plenty of meetings and writings on the subject, so those interested have been informed. Let's go forward.
caroline carbone February 16, 2011 at 02:11 PM
I am all in favor of geothermal but I think in today's economic climate this is not a wise use of our money. If we spend 3.6 million let's spend it on something that benefits the whole town-gas lines, sewers ect. I think with only 11% turnnout it is not a legitimate vote and was timed to ensure passage with low voter participation.Are we also going to approve 6.5% for the ed. budget along with stae and federal tax increases? I have not gotten a raise at my job and have had to accept higher copays for drug coverage.The previos commenter is typical of the negative attitude of the "elites" in this town who think they can run it as a fiefdom.C.Carbone
Frank Kenney February 16, 2011 at 03:15 PM
With all the information available, less than 7% of the voters show up and vote yes. I am not impressed. In a town that is so poor it has to charge children $825 to play a year of high school sports this seems awfully extravagant. I'd love to buy a Prius or, even better, a Volt but I live in the real world so I am going to have muddle along with my old gas guzzlers. Even with the government subsidies, the payback at the gas pump is too long (sounds a lot like this project, other than they are going to buy the Prius).
Nancy Brochu February 16, 2011 at 03:34 PM
The current heating system needs to be fixed. A well-laid out explanation of the costs and payback periods is available on tolland.org and has been for quite some time. It's unfortunate that this problem has come to a head during tough economic times. The residents who felt strongly enough to vote have chosen the geothermal system. That's democracy.
Steven Jones February 16, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I know I may get flak or criticism, but I want to repeat what some articles and programs have said regarding the spending. With this passage, we are now eligible to cover up to 70% of the interest and financing costs from federal credits. And Rep. Bryan Hurlburt's Bill is now going to move along and when passed, will lower the municipal cost by roughly 1/3. Finally, the long-term fiscal cost to our towns budget was projected to only increase with either yearly patch-ups to our current system, or even the replacement of a only slightly cheaper, but new oil system. However Bill I do think the town should require a certain percentage of turnout for referendums like this of at least 40-50%. We do raise the issue of never getting any work done if people choose to ignore and never vote, as I don't think we even get 40-50% on budget referendums votes in the summer. I disagree though that you cannot invalidate a referendum just because people ignored it. The Tolland website email subscription sent out 2-3 emails, Patch sent out 1-2 emails, and the library had signs and pamphlets for residents to obtain. The only alternative would be to mail out a reminder to all residents, but I'm certain people would complain about this spending as well. Turnout is a two-way street, and towns can only exhaust so many resources to inform the public before the people need to take the initiative themselves.
marie cohen February 16, 2011 at 07:14 PM
So many people have unfortunately been hoodwinked once again by the "government shell game." Government has hidden the very real cost of borrowing under the shell, and some people believe it has now disappeared. Regrettably, the cost of borrowing is still very real, and just like the pea underneath the shell in the famous con game, although you can't see it, it is in fact still there. Where do you think the "CDA Allocation Funds" come from? Where is Bryan Hurlburt going to get money from? The reality is that taxpayers are still totally on the hook for the full and real cost of borrowing for this boondoggle. Pretending otherwise only reveals extreme naivete and does a grave disservice to the quality of the debate.
marie cohen February 16, 2011 at 10:41 PM
You misunderstood, I believe. Frank stated that roughly 7% of registered voters voted yes. Roughly 5% voted no. 5+7=12. Not exactly a resounding endorsement by any stretch. May is coming soon, and when you combine this boondoggle with the staggering snow removal deficit and whopping school budget wish list many will wish they had gone to the polls yesterday and said no.
SUSAN KINSLOE-BYERS February 16, 2011 at 10:46 PM
I don't think any plotting was involved in scheduling this referendum. I'm retired and on a fixed income, so money is tight, but I think sometimes you have to spend money to save money. You cannot make me believe that some 88% of the voters in Tolland were away on vacation and couldn't vote. Short of offering to drive all voters to the polls, what else can we do to get voters in? There was a lot of information out there for us all to become familiar with geothermal, and there's always the absentee ballot for those who are out of town.
Max Headroom February 17, 2011 at 01:18 AM
I'll simply say that for a variety of reasons I am very low on the list to be aware of this issue and referendum... yet I WAS fully aware of it and I KNEW the vote was yesterday. I don't think there's any excuse for any Tolland resident of voting age not to have been aware of the general aspects of the issue and that the vote was yesterday. As Susan points out, absentee ballots are available for people who are going to be out of town on voting day. There is ALWAYS going to be a reason that a selected day will be inconvenient for some portion of voters. Second-guessing the outcome because you don't like the result is childish. Did you vote? Did you do anything to get friends and neighbors to vote? Did you attend any of the many meetings on the need to replace the HVAC system with SOMETHING (or let the overpaid, lazy town staff freeze, if that's your opinion)? Are you aware of the short- and long-term issues - ongoing repair of a disintegrating system (expensive), replacement with a traditional system (real expensive, and with no long-term energy cost advantage) or taking a bold (and only slightly more costly) step into a new option that can be financed more cheaply AND has much lower energy costs over its lifespan? If not, complaining here and now is juvenile, in the exact sense of the word - you couldn't get off your lazy duff, but you want to complain anyway. It's your town, your money - now and for the next 20-30 years - and your vote. Be adults next time.
marie cohen February 17, 2011 at 02:50 AM
Once again, this poster has created false, offensive, and wholly fictitious characterizations which are insulting to those he'd wish to have them mistakenly attributed to, as well as Tolland town staff. This is the same poster who referred recently to philosophical opponents as "ijjits" and soon after apologized. In a single post here, and without any justification or attribution, he's falsely created the impression that someone has called town staff "overpaid" and "lazy" while accusing unnamed others of being "childish" and "juvenile," while cautioning them to "Be adults next time." Huh?
Steven Jones February 17, 2011 at 03:02 AM
Let us have bygones be bygones. This proposal, which passed, has its two sides with some warranted, some unwarranted remarks. Maybe these stories should have a limited set of days to be commented upon and then closed (though this has only been a day). Or maybe these points should be brought up at future town meetings, though I wouldn't be hopeful they would reverse this public vote. Sorry for being off topic.
Bill Payer February 17, 2011 at 06:45 PM
Marie... Irony is lost on you. And that is a sad thing. You were the first to type "ijjit" in a topic response. You were the first to lambaste the public servants of the town in previous posts. Attempt to be a victim: MASSIVE FAIL!
marie cohen February 17, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Wrong on both counts. How sad for you. Check the post made 1:26pm on Tuesday, February 15, 2011 here: http://tolland.patch.com/articles/crandalls-pavilion-another-casualty-of-harsh-winter I'm anxious to see the post in which you allege I "lambaste(d) the public servants of the town....".
Bob Rubino February 18, 2011 at 10:37 PM
For some historic perspective, we went to a budget by referendum process due to a criticism that the budget by Town Meeting was not inclusive enough and/or to distressing to those who felt uncomfortable voting the budget down. Now we want to invalidate the referenda results due to poor turn out? or that the timing is all some sort of machiavellian conspiracy? Oh, please .... Here's a heretical idea: let's go back to the Budget by Town Meeting process. At least by this process of voting, we could all agree that those in attendance we're voting as informed and vested voters. Two qualities I find hard to believe universally true of the current referenda system. In the meantime, let's set about the serious business of finding a qualified contractor and negotiating the best possible outcome for the Tolland Taxpayer/Investor.
marie cohen February 19, 2011 at 04:30 AM
Thanks for the stark reminder that there is in fact a group of zealous liberal activists within our own community who would, if given the opportunity, gleefully strip us of our hard-earned right to vote at the polls by secret ballot. I'm struck by your desire that voters should be "vested." I'm guessing you're a lot more concerned with a voter's desire to personally benefit from even greater government spending than with the brutal burden borne by those of us stuck paying the obscene bills. Speaking of having a "vested" electorate, how would you feel about allowing one budget referendum vote for every $1,000 of property tax paid? That would certainly reduce the turnout you're seeking to empower, wouldn't it? Yes, many of us remember well the jury-rigged circus which was the Town Meeting Budget Vote. Would you characterize the turnout as more or less representative of our "diverse" community? I believe it was far less "diverse," as a variety of government hangers-on, their families, children, and hard-core union-member liberal activists of all ages (it mattered not who raised how many hands when your brethren made the count) ruled the day in classic Politburo fashion. I understand clearly how much you detest the fact that Tolland's voters changed the Town Charter so that a greater number of Tolland's voters could more conveniently participate in the democratic (small "d") process in a far less hostile environment. And I love it!
brian baron February 19, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Will you people get off the "going green" crap. First of all, if we increase CO2, plants breath CO2 and causes them to grow faster. So if we reduce CO2 emissions, are we not hurting the "green" plants. Who ever came up with this "going green" title is an idiot. Must be Al Gore (Politician)? Regarding the Geo system, $65,000 a year to fix and run vs. 3.6 Million dollar new system for a building that is over 100 years old and another building over 50 years old, still requires electricity to run, in this economy? Where is the logic here? Maybe we deserve to be broke.....
brian baron February 19, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Wake up Tolland, wake up Connecticut, wake up America. News flash, liberal government spending has caused all of us to be broke..... If we don't become fiscally conservative, The United States we knew, The State of Connecticut we knew and the Tolland we knew are all becoming a 2-class society, never giving our children a chance to succeed. Voting is a big part of that and if the turn-out was small, it may be for many reasons, I agree with Ms. Cohen, at least they are Tolland residents holding up their hands instead of out-of-town special interest liberals trying to move an agenda....sounds like Wisconsin?
Renée Canada February 19, 2011 at 06:21 PM
I hope you are voting and making your voices heard at town meetings!

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