American Rescue Plan may bring over $6 million in federal aid to Monroe

MONROE, CT — First Selectman Ken Kellogg says Monroe may receive over $6 million in federal aid through the American Rescue Plan, according to “informed estimates.”

“While the federal legislation specifically prohibits use of the funding for tax cuts, I am hopeful that we can identify acceptable use of these funds to make budgetary adjustments that will help our residents,” Kellogg told the Town Council in his update Monday.

“While general guidance has been released, we are awaiting specific rules to be issued by the U.S. Treasury Department,” he added.

Kellogg said estimates show the town will receive approximately $1.9 million in direct municipal aid, $3.7 million in county aid, and $1 million for the Monroe school district. He said the funds must be used by the end of 2024.

“I will continue to report as updated information becomes available,” he said.

Patio seating

Last summer, the town showed flexibility in allowing restaurants to have seating for outdoor dining to reduce the loss of tables, while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first selectman told the council the town’s economic development team has worked with Town Planner Rick Schultz and the Planning and Zoning Commission’s regulations subcommittee to draft revisions to town zoning regulations that will allow existing restaurants to permanently provide appropriate outdoor dining.

“The changes are focused on making the process administrative and less
restrictive, while ensuring standards such as safety are maintained,” Kellogg said. “The changes will go to a public hearing on April 22, 2021.”

In other economic news, Kellogg updated the Town Council on the status of the Panera Café proposal for Towne Line Plaza at 205 Monroe Turnpike, near the Trumbull town line.

Proposed modifications received a favorable review from the Architectural Review Board and the site plan will be submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, according to Kellogg.

“This would be their second Panera Café in the country,” he said of the new design.

The first selectman also mentioned the recent opening of Your CBD Store at 574 Monroe Turnpike, behind 574 Wines. “The store is one of over hundreds of locations throughout the country offering CBD oil based products,” he said.

Police transparency

“In light of recent national events and the ongoing efforts to ensure transparency in Monroe Police Department practices, Chief Salvatore has posted departmental General Orders on the town website,” Kellogg said.

The general orders posted by Police Chief John Salvatore include everything from policies on the “Role and Authority” of police officers to the “Use of Deadly Force.”

Pandemic update

Kellogg said the rate of new COVID-19 cases has increased in Monroe and many surrounding towns. Monroe is now averaging just over four-and-a-half new cases per day.

Meanwhile, the percentage of the town’s population to receive at least one dose of vaccine is 27-percent, which is comparable to the state rate of 26-percent, according to Kellogg.

“The state is once again providing Monroe with vaccine for first dose clinics,” he said. “We have a full appointment schedule this Wednesday at the Senior Center, and on Thursday we will be starting our mobile clinics for homebound residents.”

Starting next week, Kellogg said the town will be moving its vaccination clinic to the St. Jude School gymnasium.

“I am extremely grateful to St. Jude Parish for providing this space as a community service,” he said. “This new location will simplify the logistics of our clinic setup and allow us to schedule more appointments each week, while not interfering with other programming and services in our municipal and school facilities.”

The town continues to offer more services, in accordance with the next phase of the state of Connecticut’s reopening.

Town Hall, Edith Wheeler Memorial Library and the Monroe Senior Center are now open for walk-in service, though rules for social distancing and mask requirements must be followed, regardless of vaccination status.

“We continue to encourage scheduling appointments for routine town services through,” Kellogg said. “Additionally, the Town Hall dropbox remains available in the police station lobby, and the library continues to offer ‘patio books’ and their ‘Library to Go’ curbside service.”

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