July 2, 2022

$12.74 Million Chester Budget Plan Approved on Unanimous Town Meeting Vote

CHESTER— Voters Tuesday approved a total $12.74 town/school budget plan for 2012-2013 on a unanimous voice vote at the annual budget meeting.

About 60 residents turned out for the meeting, where the spending plan was approved without discussion. First Selectman Edmund Meehan explained the only change made by the board of finance after the May 1 public hearing, restoring $18,000 to the appropriation for Chester Elementary School while deferring $18,000 in the capital expenditure plan that was to be set aside for roof repairs at the school.

The finance board, citing declining enrollment at the school, had recommended a $20,000 cut in the elementary school budget. The cut drew a mixed response from residents at the public hearing after the local board of education reported it could only find $2,000 in cuts from the proposed budget. The finance board later decided to restore $18,000 for 2012-2013 while deferring the $18,000 for planned roof repairs.

The total $12,748,081 spending package includes a town government budget of $3,411,243, $428,961 in capital expenditures, a $4,223,900 appropriation for the elementary school, and the town’s 4,683,977 share of the Region 4 education budget that was approved by the voters of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a May 8 referendum.

The board of finance will vote this week to set a tax rate of 22.24 mills to fund the spending plan. The new rate, which represents $22.45 in tax for each $1,000 in assessed property value, is up by .34 mills from the current tax rate. In setting the rate at 22.25 mills, the finance board will approve a transfer of $174,641 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to help cover expenditures. The transfer would leave about $1.34 million in the fund balance as of June 30, 2013.

Voters also unanimously approved several other items on the town meeting agenda, including authorization of two transfers from the capital expenditure plan that are funded in the current budget. Voters approved $40,000 for the Main Street Committee to pay for an engineering consultant for the long-planned Main Street improvement project, and $110,000 for road repairs to be completed this summer. Meehan said the town would be resurfacing a section of North Cedar Lake Road from from the Boy Scouts shack north to the Haddam town line.

Voters also authorized joining the new Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, a regional organization that will replace the existing and more informal Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Elected Officials to coordinate a planned merger of the two regional planning agencies serving area towns.

The organization has already received membership approval from the required two-thirds of the 17 towns in the proposed region, with the vote Tuesday making Chester the 14th town to join the COG. The new council of governments is expected to implement the merger of the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Middletown-based Midstate Regional Planning Agency this summer.