Council Approves $5 Million In Capital Spending

Council Approves $5 Million In Capital Spending

After making adjustments during their June 21 meeting, Cheshire Town Councilors unanimously voted in support of a $5 million capital expenditure plan for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

The budget, which totals $5,006,000, includes 26 projects. Additional projects may be approved at a later date.

At their monthly meeting in August, Councilors are expected to vote on additional funding for some bigger-ticket projects — $166 million designated for the school modernization project, $2.4 million for road reconstruction and repaving, and $650,000 for a new fire alarm system at Dodd Middle School. If the Council approves the projects, they will be included at referendum in November.

The expenditure plan approved on June 21 includes projects for both the Town and Cheshire School District, such as vehicle and equipment replacements ($413,000), West Main Street parking, streetscape and trail access improvements ($350,000), lighting upgrades at Highland School ($310,000), generator upgrades at Cheshire High School and Highland ($280,000), and more.

During the meeting, Councilor David Borowy, who serves as the Budget Committee chairman, proposed cutting Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak’s $165,000 request for tennis and pickleball court lighting at Cheshire Park to $98,000, which will provide enough funding for lighting the pickleball courts and the nearby parking lot. He argued that the Parks and Recreation Department “didn’t push” the need to light the tennis courts, adding that the Council could approve funding to install those lights at a later date.

“I would like to see us light the pickleball courts only, and the parking lot,” Borowy said.

While the Council supported Borowy’s proposed cut, they did not approve Councilor Jim Jinks’ request to reduce the number of new police cruisers purchased from four to two. Jinks suggested that, since the Cheshire Police Department is currently awaiting vehicles ordered in the current fiscal year to be added to the fleet, the Department could cut its request in half. Jinks also wanted to provide the Building Department with one of the cruisers that would no longer be used by the CPD.

The Building Department, Jinks said, was requesting an all-wheel-drive vehicle as part of the capital budget.

“It would seem like it would be a vehicle that would have significant life left for use by the Building Department,” Jinks said.

Town Manager Sean Kimball said he spoke with Police Chief Neil Dryfe after the Council brought up Jinks’ request during budget deliberations. Kimball stated that the vehicles have “significant engine time and sometimes also mileage,” and, based on review by the Public Works Department, were not recommended to be passed on to a different department for use.

“The vehicles that are being replaced from the current order there were not identified as (being) appropriate for moving to the Building Department,” Kimball explained.

Jinks appreciated Kimball’s explanation and revoked his request. Borowy, however, took the opportunity to stress the importance of maintaining a schedule for replacing CPD vehicles. According to Borowy, cutting back on purchasing new cruisers for the CPD would then require the Council to purchase more than four as part of a future capital budget.

“I’m a little concerned if we were to cut this year because we’re not going to get these vehicles for another year,” Borowy said. “The consequences of our action won’t be felt until a year from now.”


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