June 17, 2019

Little Public Comment on No-Tax-Increase Chester Budget

CHESTER— A total $12.55 million town spending plan for 2011-2012 drew a mild reaction Tuesday from a handful of residents at the annual budget hearing. About 20 residents, most currently serving on town boards and commissions, turned out for the hearing at the Chester Meeting House.

The total $12,555,853 spending package includes a $3,668,718 town government budget, a $4,164,069 appropriation for Chester Elementary School, and the town’s $4,723,066 share of the Region 4 education budget.
The town government budget is down by $26,767, or 0.72 percent, from the current appropriation. The town government budget includes a $345,000 capital expenditure fund for 2011-2012, with $270,000 of the amount directed toward road repairs, and $25,000 for roof repairs at the Chester Hose Company Firehouse.

First Selectman Tom Marsh said the town budget maintains all current services, despite the small decrease in total spending. He said the capital expenditure plan, which also includes $50,000 towards the future purchase of a new fire truck later in the decade, “takes care of what we need to take care of” in a year where growth in the grand list of taxable property generated only $33,500 in new tax revenue. “If we had fatter days we could certainly put more money in this account,” he said.

The $4,164,069 budget for Chester Elementary School represents a small $2,824 decrease from current spending for the school. A drop in student enrollment at the K-sixth grade school, from the current 275 students to 266 expected in September, allowed for a reduction of one teacher position, one teacher assistant position, and a part-time para-educator position for a savings of about $110.000.

The budget plan calls for no increase in the current tax rate of 22.11 mills, or $22.11 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. Helping for avoid a hike in the tax rate is a transfer of $145,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance. The transfer would leave about $1.31 million in the fund balance in June 2012.

There were no calls for changes in the budget plan at the public hearing. The annual budget meeting vote on a spending package for 2011-2012 is expected to be held on Tuesday May 17 at the Meeting House. The Region 4 education budget goes to the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex Tuesday in a 12-noon to 8 p.m. referendum.

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