The Board of Finance.
The Board of Finance meeting Wednesday in Town Hall.

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — The Board of Finance voted Wednesday to keep Chairman Lee Caney and Vice Chairman Michael Keller in their leadership positions.

Caney is a Democrat. Keller is a Republican.

It was the first meeting of the newly constituted board after the Nov. 7 election. The board has three new members, Republicans Liz Heyer, formerly vice chairwoman of the Board of the Education, and Rich Hightower; and Democrat Danielle Dobin, formerly chairwoman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

It was Jeff Hammer’s first meeting as a member elected by the voters. The Democrat had been appointed to fill a vacancy on the board in August.

Brian Stern, who was not at Wednesday’s meeting, rounds out the board. He’s a Democrat. The party has four members on the board, Republicans three.

Dobin nominated Caney for another term as chair.

Lee Caney, left, and Michael Keller.
Lee Caney, left, and Michael Keller

“He exemplifies a true commitment to public service,” she said, sacrificing personal time when after commuting from New York City.

“There are some very complicated and controversial conversations coming up soon,” Dobin said. “I know that everybody on this board won’t always agree, but Lee truly views the board as a family, and just as families sometimes disagree, they still gather around the table, break bread, work through their issues and come together and emerge stronger than before.”

“I have tremendous faith in Lee to guide this board and I’m absolutely delighted to nominate him to be chair,” Dobin said.

“Thank you,” Caney said. “I appreciate it.”

He asked if there were any other nominations for chair and there were not. The vote was unanimous.

“Congratulations,” Heyer said to Caney.

She then nominated Keller for another term as vice chair.

“He has been on the board a couple of years, and I feel that his calm demeanor has been a very welcome presence in town government in general,” she said. “I think he will be an asset as vice chair to help up through the issues that we have in front of us.”

“Can I second it?” Caney asked. “Any discussion? Any other nominations?”

Keller’s vote also was unanimous.

“Congratulations,” Caney said.

“Thank you Lee,” he responded.

Funds approved for police boats, bus shelters and sewer repairs

The board had a long agenda with financial reports, expenditure requests, and the shifting of funds from various accounts. There was plenty of discussion but no split votes.

Among the items was $362,194 to replace the Police Department’s Marine 2 Boston Whaler with a new vessel meeting the town’s specifications.

In a related request, the department also requested $85,840 to replace the Marine 1 patrol boat’s two motors.

The board also approved included $250,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund for bus shelters along the Post Road, as requested by the Department of Public Works.

That department also got approval for $275,000 for another round of repairs to the sewage pump station project/line in the Post Road East corridor near the Fairfield border.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.