NHCOG Observer Corps Report ~ 07.17


NHCOG: July, 2017 Meetings @ NHCOG Office-Goshen

While many subjects were covered in the two (2) July meetings, the prime topics for the COG members were:

Regional Plan of Conservation and Development for the Northwest Hills

The 2018-23 Draft Plan , as required by the State, was approved by the COG and is on the website (http://northwesthillscog.org/). The goals include:

–  attracting and retaining young residents;
– protecting water supply quality;
– encouraging farm-related businesses;
– strengthening town centers;
– meeting the needs of older adult residents
– continuing to foster regional collaboration

A hearing will be held and the COG will be asked to adopt the plan in October.

Financial Challenges of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) and the Proposal for Administrative Consolidation.

Mark Ojakian, President of CSCU, the state collection of 4 Universities, 12 Community Colleges and Charter Oak State College, spoke of the need to consolidate functions and save money. The system may lose $93 million in state aid over the next two years and the consolidation of functions such as:

–       Information technology
–       Purchasing
–       Food service
–       Finance and facilities is becoming necessary.

On the Community College level the program to save $43 of the $93 million will be developed by Michael Rooke, the new President of Northwestern Connecticut Community College (NCCC) in Winsted.

Mayor Elinor C Carbone of Torrington was concerned that many school guidance counselors are steering students away from state schools. Leo Paul, First Selectman of Litchfield praised the idea of the plans and hoped it is sustainable.

President Ojakian did say he understood the importance of NCCC to the COG population; especially after the closing of UCONN ,Torrington.

Overview of the “New” Sharon Hospital

Hospital President Peter Cordeau,( a Goshen-Woodridge Lake resident and a trained nurse) spoke on the sale of the hospital to Health Quest. Sharon will become part of a system of acute care hospitals in Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Carmel New York. Cordeau said that 44% of Sharon’s patients live in New York An objective at Sharon will be to train doctors locally and encourage setting up local practices. Currently Sharon has limited staff, with one cardiologist and one pulmonologist. Health Quest will provide more specialists and recruit new physicians. Cordeau was asked how the new plan fits in with the declining population of the area. He said the Sharon Hospital has transferred out about 500 patients a year to larger facilities because of the lack of specialists. Health Quest acquisition should attract more specialists to Sharon and make Sharon Hospital more attractive to a local community in Sharon which has a high weekend population.

Proposal for Self-Insurance Program

Over the years the COG has reviewed several insurance plans to use their collective strength to get reduced costs. The complexity of the local town structures with schools under one insurance plan, towns under another and union employees in many different plans, has  made this difficult. At this meeting Richard Carmelick of EdAdvance and Mary Glassman of Capital Region Education Council (CREC) spoke about plans to reduce insurance costs through Cooperative marketplace, group self-insurance and stop loss coverage. A feasibility study was suggested to study the financial sense to self-insure through a regional cooperative. CREC and EAdvance would conduct the analysis for interested towns and will accept applications for currently self-insured towns through December 2017 for coverage in 2018-19. Fully insured towns and schools can contact CREC and EdAdvance to join the collaborative study.

Respectfully submitted,
Bernie Harrington

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