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Weston's Economic Outlook Shows Signs of Improving

WESTON, Conn. – Weston appears to be bouncing back from the financial crisis that socked the country a few years ago.

Although First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she cannot predict the future, Weston is showing signs of economic growth, such as a downward trend in the unemployment rate, a decrease in the number of families who use Social Services and a slight increase in construction.

Weinstein offered a brief summary of what she called economic indicators to the Board of Finance this week during her 2012-13 budget presentation. “I think it’s important for all of us to have an understanding as to how our residents are currently doing and how the down is doing,” Weinstein said.

“Unemployment statistics are currently showing that we are trending downward,” she said. According to her PowerPoint presentation, unemployment peaked from 2009 to 2010 at up to 6 percent. But as of December, it dropped to 4.7 percent.

Although the number of families using the town’s Social Services Department appears to be holding steady, there is a decrease in the number of families seeking help who have children. According to Weinstein, the town has about 3,800 residents. Of those, 212 use the Social Services Department, 108 are in financial need and 63 are homes in financial need with children.

In 2010, Weinstein said, a total of 64 families with children were using social services, 77 were using the programs in June 2011 and 63 in December 2011.

According to numbers for January and February, Weinstein said she expected those numbers to steadily decline this year. “We are seeing a decline in school population, so we are also anticipating that trend to go downward,” she said.

Foreclosures are also dropping in Weston, although slowly. In 2010, Weston saw 27 final foreclosures and 25 short sales. But the number decreased slightly in 2011 when there were 23 final foreclosures and 14 short sales.

For construction in Weston, the number of permits for new homes dropped, but there was an increase for additions and remodeling. “People are not putting on the same kind of additions that they did previously,” Weinstein said. The scale of the construction jobs is now less expensive, but the amount of work done appears to be holding steady.

“I think people are just a little bit more cautious with their money,” Weinstein said Thursday.

One interesting change happening in Weston, Weinstein said, was the large number of generators installed in 2011. According to Weinstein’s figures, the town issued 107 new generator permits in 2011. That increase was most likely caused by the two major power outages in town after Hurricane Irene and the Oct. 29 snowstorm.

As for the financial outlook for Weston, Weinstein said, “I am not sure … but I think the economic reality is improving.”

Although the statistics show Weston is on the rise, Weinstein spoke about families in need who use services such as the Weston Warm Up Fund and the Weston Community Food Pantry . “I would like to remind people that I feel the public does have a responsibility to help your neighbors.”

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