Former New Milford town planner takes on new economic development position
NEW MILFORD — The former town planner is back on the town payroll in a newly created economic development job.
Mayor Pete Bass announced last week that Kathy Castagnetta will fill the community investment officer position. She will be paid $60,000 to help potential new businesses through the town’s regulatory process, among other duties.
“Kathy is the perfect person because she already worked as both a planner and a zoning enforcement officer, so she can guide and shepherd them through,” Bass said.
Castagnetta was the town planner until the end of the last fiscal year when the position was eliminated, as the town cut its budget in response to state funding cuts.
The town will pay her new salary for the first year before the economic development corporation takes it over. However, if the corporation doesn’t have the money, the position will be eliminated.
Bass said the position will be a liaison to the new economic development director, a $150,000-per-year job that focuses on attracting new businesses.
“With these two in tandem, we’ll be a power house,” Bass said.
He said he hoped the extra support would make it easier for businesses to locate in town.
Castagnetta will also work on updating the plan of conservation and development, eliminating the need for the $30,000 earmarked for that work. This money, part of a state grant, as well as money set aside for a roof study that was paid for by the Board of Education, will be used to make up the $60,000 salary.
On Wednesday, the Board of Finance approved the new position. The Town Council approved the position last month with Councilwoman Lisa Hida opposing.
The council supported the position on the condition that it would not be a permanent town expense.
“This is one time to get them going and then it’s sink or swim,” Councilwoman Katy Francis said at the meeting.
The town also plans to hire an economic development director for $150,000. Bass said he put $20,000 aside for relocation costs to help attract a high-caliber applicant.
Bass plans to have the economic development corporation use some of the same best practices Shelton has implemented. He said Shelton’s corporation took a few years to be established but now covers more than 75 percent of its $440,000 budget with the city covering the remaining $100,000.