Skip to content

First Selectman Messages

Town of Canton >> Boards and Commissions >> Board of Selectmen >> First Selectman >> First Selectman Messages

4/9/2020 - 04/09/2020

Dear Residents,

Here's the latest...

Canton Cares
Nothing speaks to the spirit of Canton more than the generosity of our citizens in the face of the COVID crisis. The town has received money, masks, food gift cards, meals and even cupcakes for dessert!

All of these items (except for the masks) are handled by our Senior and Social Services Team. If you have an idea, a donation or just the desire to help, please give the team a call at 860-693-5811. They can coordinate efforts and make sure that the right aid gets to the people who need it most. If you want to donate masks, please bring them to the Canton Police Station.

On behalf of Canton, thank you!

Social Distancing 
By now, we’re all getting a little stir-crazy. The weather is nice. The Internet and TV have lost their lustre. Is all this social distancing really necessary? The answer is “YES!”

While statistics show that most people who contract COVID-19 have relatively mild symptoms, others are at risk of losing their lives. No one knows why one person – young or old – develops mild symptoms while another fights for breath. 

Not knowing the difference means that we must treat everyone as if they have the virus. The good news is that people who have mild cases build immunity to the virus. This will help reduce the number of cases overall. The bad news is that we could be 12+ months away from an effective vaccine for everyone. Then, and only then, can we let our guard down.

The Budget
Like many town processes, the 2020 budget deliberations changed greatly with the onset of COVID-19. Beyond the shift from in-person hearings to virtual meetings and emailed public comments, our boards were tasked with budgeting for an uncertain world.

Will Canton’s economy bounce back quickly or will we face on-going economic disruption?  No one really knows for sure. What we do know is that quality, consistent service will be needed in the months ahead. First responders will need protective equipment, roads will need to be paved, teachers will need to teach, and so much more. 

On Monday, April 6, the Board of Finance reviewed the budgets submitted by the Boards of Education and Selectmen. Top of mind were:
Preserving town services when residents and businesses need them most;
Pruning services that will most likely not be needed as we recover from COVID;
Investing in services that will accelerate economic recovery; and,
Maintaining adequate reserves to fund emergency expenditures and possibly refinance the town debt to take advantage of historically low interest rates.

The initial budgets submitted by the Boards of Finance, Selectmen and Education would have resulted in a 3.9% increase.  After considering the factors above, the Board of Finance reduced the increase in the Board of Selectmen’s operating budget by $71,651, the increase in the Board of Education Budget by $206,499 and the overall Capital Improvement Budget by $153,000.  These reductions equated to a revised budget increase of 2.8%

The Board of Finance further agreed to transfer $200,000 from the unallocated fund balance to the general fund to cover shortfalls in investment revenue ($70,000), departmental revenue ($12,000), and tax collection. The resulting budget of $40,929,208 translates to a mil rate of 32.82 which will require a 2.47% increase over the current mil rate of 32.03. 

The Board of Education approved the budget reductions at its April 7th meeting. The Board of Selectmen is expected to do the same at its meeting on April 15th. On April 20th, the Board of Finance will review the adjusted budget and publish it in time for a public hearing on the budget on May 4th.

All of these meetings will be virtual. You can comment on the proceedings and make budget suggestions via email at These emails will be forwarded automatically to all members of the Board of Finance, the Superintendent of Schools, CAO, Board of Education Chair and First Selectman.
If you have something to say, it is vitally important that you do. If by May 1st the Governor has not lifted the current ban on referenda, the Board of Finance is authorized to approve the budget and set the mil rate. 

This change in process must not change your ability to participate. The town budget belongs to all of us. Your comments on May 4th will be considered in the final budget deliberations just as they have throughout this process. Please make your views known!

Stay well, 

Bob Bessel
First Selectman




Kevin Witkos
First Selectman
Phone: (860) 693-7847

Office Hours:
-Thursdays 10am-12pm  
-If I am not in the office, click here to make an appointment

Canton Town Hall
P.O. Box 168
4 Market Street
Collinsville, CT 06022