Town Manager Sean Kimball unveiled his 2021-2022 operating budget recommendation at the March 16 Town Council meeting, calling for $121.57 million in municipal spending.
If passed, the budget would carry a 4.57% tax increase for Cheshire residents, which comes out to approximately $36.58 more per month.
“In developing the budget this year, I sought to achieve the following primary objectives,” Kimball began. “To maintain the delivery of Town services at the levels historically expected by residents and businesses of our community, including the restoration of services either deferred or eliminated last year from the current budget (in) anticipation of the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, to advance the key goals and objectives of the Town Council.”
Those goals and objectives, according to Kimball, include practicing fiscal responsibility; prioritizing economic development and growing the Town’s grand list; improving maintenance and user group service levels for parks and recreational assets; and reorganizing staffing and departmental operations for administrative and human resource function areas.
“It was incredibly challenging to develop this year’s proposed budget due to all the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kimball told the Town Council. “Last year, the pandemic arrived just as my proposed 2020-2021 budget was submitted to the Town Council for review and adoption...This proposed budget restores service levels and unfreezes some full-time positions as we plan for a fiscal year after July 1 that is operationally more in line with prior years…”
The budget is broken down into general government, education, debt, capital non-recurring and contingency spending requests. The Education budget—$74,593,926—was first presented by Superientendent of Schools Jeff Solan earlier this year and then approved, without modification, by Board of Education. General government spending for 2021 is projected to be $32,962,510 under Kimball’s plan, with debt service costing $7,581,981.
Kimball also explained that the Town of Cheshire is eligible for funding from the federal government related to COVID-19 pandemic relief, but the state still needs to figure out how it plans to disperse the funds.
“We are slated to get some funding from the state—New Haven County is set to get a nice chunk,” Kimball said.
In the next few weeks, the Town will be holding a series of virtual budget workshops in which the public can become involved. The next budget workshop meeting will be on March 23 at 6:30 p.m.