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Thursday, May 08, 2003

Forty percent of Westport Households

Forty percent of Westport Households Earn $200,000 Annually
Sifting through the 2000 census data, the lobbying group for Connecticut cities and towns has come up with the statistic that more than 40 percent of the homes in Westport earn more than $200,000 per year.

According to the newsletter of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, one of every two households earns $200,000 per year in seven percent of Connecticut communities, but in others, less than one in 100 households earns that much.

The newsletter said Westport ranked fourth in municipalities in the state having the highest percentage of households earning more than $200,000 annually.

Those ahead of Westport: New Canaan 49.19 percent; Darien 48.02 percent, and Weston 43.37 percent.

In Westport, 40.44 percent of all homes, or 2,898 households, earned more than $200,000 annually.

Behind Westport in the top 10: Wilton, Greenwich, Easton, Ridgefield, Redding, Avon and Woodbridge.

Compo Beach Fireworks Fund-Raiser Underway

Compo Beach Fireworks Fund-Raiser Underway
This years Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) invitation to its biggest annual fund-raising event is going out to thousands of Westport homes with some good news Җ the Independence Day fireworks display will be back at Compo Beach.

The fireworks, which had been held last year at the state-owned Sherwood Island State Park, will be held Thursday, July 3 at 9 p.m. with a rain date of Monday, July 7. Car passes are $25 and will be $30 after June 6. Public sale of the passes will begin next week.

PAL was forced to relocate the display to Sherwood Island last year after being unable to secure a barge for launching of the fireworks. This year the group has hired a unit of the well-known Grucci fireworks family which arranged for a barge.

Bernhard Rejects Budget Plan as

Bernhard Rejects Budget Plan as Too Heavy on Tax Hikes
Westports State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard says he opposes a new budget plan offered by the Democratic majority in the legislature as too heavy on tax increases.

The plan, according to the Republican legislator, would increase income taxes, sales taxes and business taxes on top of the stateҒs already heavy tax burden.

In a news release, Bernhard said the plan would boost spending above Gov. John Rowland’s proposed budget by $353 million over two years, and require additional tax increases of about $1.7 billion.

Bernhard also predicted that the budget also would exceed the states constitutional spending cap that was approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1992.

“My response to this budget plan can be summed up in four words: Too many tax hikes,” said Bernhard.

“No one disputes that we need to meet the needs of the people we serve,” Bernhard said, “but doing it right requires balance.

ғHow can we justify voting for a budget that promises to restore state aid to cities and towns, but does so by raising taxes by an average of $1,000 per family? I can’t support that.

Town Clerks Office Releases Budget Referendum Text

The Town Clerks office has released the text of a petition being circulated by former Representative Town Meeting member Michael Gilbertie who is seeking a $5 million cut in the townҒs $128.6 million budget for the next fiscal year.

The petition asks signers to endorse the following language for a referendum to be held if 1,592 signatures of registered voters are obtained in the next two weeks:

Shall an appropriation approved by the Representative Town Meeting in the sum of $128,626,779 to meet operating expenditures in the Town of Westport annual budget for fiscal year 2003-2004 be decreased by $5,000,000 to the sum of $123,626,779?Ӕ

If the required number of signatures is obtained, the Board of Selectmen, under the town charter, must call a special election as soon thereafter as practicable.Ӕ

The charter further requires that the Board of Finance extend by five days after the referendum vote the date for determining the town tax for the year following the appropriation.

The charter requires that any referendum must be decided by a vote of at least 20 percent of registered voters, which is 3,184.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Westports State Rep. Ken Bernhard

Westports State Rep. Ken Bernhard Votes for Smoking Ban
WestportҒs State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was among House of Representatives members who voted today for a smoking ban in Connecticuts bars and restaurants.

After almost four hours of debate, the House voted to ban smoking by a 103-43 vote. The state Senate passed the same bill last week.

Gov. John G. Rowland said he is not happy with the legislation, but said he would sign it into law.

Once Rowland signs the bill, the ban on smoking in restaurants will begin on Oct. 1. The ban on smoking in bars takes place on April 1, 2004. Private clubs, such as Elks clubs, are exempt.

Former Westporter Convicted of Mass Murders Found Dead

Geoffrey K. Ferguson, a former Westporter convicted of killing five people at a house he owned in Redding in 1995, took his own life today by strangling himself in his Newtown prison cell, according to police.

The 52-year-old Ferguson, who graduated from Staples High School in 1971 at the age of 20 after several brushes with the law, was serving a life sentence for capital felony and arson convictions.

The crime was one of Connecticut’s worst mass murders in years.

Ferguson was found unresponsive in his cell by staff at the Garner Correctional Institution just before 3 a.m., the state Department of Correction said, according to an AP report. He was pronounced dead just after 4 a.m. at Danbury Hospital.

More "Former Westporter Convicted of Mass Murders Found Dead"


05/07/03 10:14 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westports Black Duck Cafҩ Seeks

Westports Black Duck Cafҩ Seeks Permit to Construct Small Marina
It may soon be beer, burgers and boats—or, if you prefer, suds, salads and sails—at Westports Black Duck Cafҩ.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the well-known restaurant whose home is a one-time barge on the Saugatuck River is seeking a permit to construct and maintain a small commercial marina providing 11 slips for vessels up to 20 feet in length.

The Corps is asking for public comment on the proposal with a deadline of June 2.

Details of the application are available on the Corps Web site.

The Black Duck Caf, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is located on a former sea-going refrigeration and ice storage barge that was built around 1840.

According to a history of the restaurant on the Black Duck Web site, the barge was refurbished in the early 1900s and had been anchored in Westport since 1961.

The restaurant is named for a legendary rumrunner that operated off the New England coast during the Prohibition era.

Longtime Westport Aviation Expert Paul

Longtime Westport Aviation Expert Paul Bray Dies in Crash
Whenever local or national media needed an expert to comment on a plane crash, they called Paul Bray Jr. of Westport.

He knew his stuff. As head of Westport-based Aviation Technical Consultants Inc., he was often called in to consult on plane crash investigations or searches for lost aircraft.

Monday Bray, 75, died in a plane crash near Howell Township, N.J. His son, Peter Bray, 48, of Norwalk, was listed in critical condition at Jersey Shore Medical Center’s trauma unit, according to an AP report.

Authorities said their single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza A-36 aircraft was trying to land at nearby Monmouth Executive Airport when it went down over a wooded area.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane took off from Florida at about 10:15 a.m. and was bound for Stratford’s Sikorsky Airport. Preliminary reports indicate that the aircraft was trying to land in Monmouth to refuel when it went down about 3:15 p.m., the AP said.

Sikorsky Airport was Bray’s longtime base of operations. As an aviation consultant and pilot for more than 50 years, he often analyzed air crashes for the FAA and insurance companies.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.

It was not immediately clear who was flying the plane, but authorities said the pilot had informed airport officials that he was low on fuel and was planning to land at the Monmouth County facility.

Bray was the husband of longtime Westport Board of Finance member Penny A. Bray. The couple had moved to Bradenton, Fla., some time ago, but friends said they still owned property in Westport.

Before moving to Florida, both Brays were active in local Republican Party politics.

Peter Bray operates Bray’s Tax Service, Inc., on Saugatuck Avenue in Westport along with his sister Doreen.

Update: A memorial service was held for Bray May 17 at Norwalk’s Grace Episcopal Church.

Memorial donations may be made in the name of Paul A. Bray Jr. to the Aeronautical Engineering Dept. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 Eighth St., Troy, NY 12080-3590.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Westports Legislative Body Approves Town Budget

Westports Representative Town Meeting has given preliminary approval to a $46.1 million budget for the town portion of spending for the next fiscal year, a 2.65 percent increase.

Formal approval of the amount, along with consideration of the Board of EducationҒs requested $70 million operating budget, a 5.09 percent increase over last year, will come tonight.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell told the RTM at Monday night’s session that she anticipated that the town’s tax increase for the next fiscal year will be under 10 percent, less than originally expected.

She cited a jump in revenues from real estate transfers as well as a higher than anticipated increase in the town’s grand list.

The towns Board of Finance approved the budget amounts last month and recommended approval to the RTM.

Update: The RTM, by unanimous vote, formally approved both the town and education budgets Tuesday night. An attempt to reduce the education budget by $117,300 failed 25-9.

Former RTM member Michael Gilbertie told the session he would start a petition drive for a referendum to reduce the approved amount by $5 million. He has two weeks to collect the required 1,592 signatures.

Westports Representative Town Meeting Thanks Troops

Westports Representative Town Meeting (RTM), in a unanimous action, has approved a resolution thanking U.S. troops serving at home and abroad.

The ғsense of the meeting resolution approved Monday night also expressed appreciation to allied forces serving side by side with American troops.

The resolution made no mention of the war in Iraq.

Last month, the RTM took no action on an anti-war resolution after a representative of the petitioners said events had overtaken the measure which was submitted before fighting began in Iraq.

Monday, May 05, 2003

WestportNow Offers E-Mail Notification At

WestportNow Offers E-Mail Notification
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The e-mail will contain the headline(s) of the new content, not the entire item.

To sign up for the service, scroll down on the left side of the page and enter your e-mail address in the box below the words enter your email address below to subscribe to WestportNow.com!Ӕ

I am assured by the company providing this service that any e-mail addresses entered will be kept private and not shared with third parties or used for solicitations. But, like with anything, there is only the companys word on this.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Tax Cheaters Beware: Investigators Patrol Parking Lots

If you are driving with out-of-state plates and attend public meetings at Town Hall, drop off or pick up your kid at school, or go the library, beware someone may be taking down your number.

Westport Tax Collector George Underhill told The Advocate of Stamford these locales are among public places being monitored periodically by CT Tax Fraud Bureau, a firm the town hired three years ago to crack down on residents trying to avoid paying the town֒s automobile tax.

In Westport, the town notifies CT Tax Fraud Bureau when there are public meetings and investigators stake out the parking lots looking for out-of-state plates, Underhill said,Ӕ according to the newspaper’s story. It reported Stamford has hired the same firm.

He said investigators also look at plates while driving by the public schools when parents are picking up or dropping off their children and going through the library parking lot.

Not only have the efforts resulted in more auto tax money for Westports coffers, Underhill said, but there have been additional benefits from the snooping by the Monroe, Conn.-based firm founded by two former state troopers.

The newspaper quoted the Westport official as saying investigations have turned up a half-dozen cases in which students were attending public schools illegally and identified residents operating businesses out of their homes.

The town has since charged tuition of parents who want their children to remain in Westport public schools and has levied personal property taxes on business equipment in home offices, he told The Advocate.

“Our budgets are so tight around here that every nickel and dime helps,” Underhill said.

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