Chester budget increases 2.9 percent
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | January 31,2013
CHESTER — Higher operating expenses and county tax increases are the primary reasons for a 2.9 percent increase in the town budget next year, according to Town Manager David Pisha.
The Select Board last week approved a $2.43 million budget for next year, which is a $69,000 increase from this year’s $2.36 million budget.
The town is no longer receiving Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to cover Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts, Pisha said. The budget increase will make up for the lost revenue and fund necessary town operations.
Another factor driving up the budget is cost of living expenses and fuel costs, he said.
“It’s nothing in particular. It’s a lot of little things that cause the grand total to go up,” Pisha said.
County taxes also played a role in increasing the spending plan, Pisha said. County taxes cover the Windsor County Sheriff’s Department, probate court, county building and miscellaneous county operations.
According to Pisha, Chester’s share of the county taxes doubled from $11,800 last year to $23,650 this year. He attributed the tax hike to two underfunded county budgets in 2011 and 2012.
County budgets are set by side judges who are appointed by the governor. They set a $416,000 budget in 2011 and a $474,450 budget in 2012. This year, Side Judges Jack Anderson and David Singer increased the budget by 14 percent to $542,000.
Pisha said it may be a while before Chester residents see a decrease in their county taxes.
“County taxes are a significant chunk of our budget increase and it doesn’t look like they will be going down anytime soon,” he said.
In other town meeting articles, residents will vote on a 0.7 percent increase in the capital reserve fund. Next year’s capital reserve fund is $540,000, a $4,000 increase from this year’s $536,000 reserve fund, according to Pisha.
The following items have been allocated for next year’s reserve fund, according to the town meeting warrant: $124,400 for a new dump truck; $250,000 for a new grader; $60,000 for sidewalk replacement; $19,100 for a pump truck rebuild; $44,000 for a new police cruiser; $6,500 for a cemetery survey; $4,500 for a pool lift; $20,000 for Whiting Library upgrades and $7,500 for town hall upgrades.
The capital reserve fund is voted separately so residents can approve or disapprove specific items and then add them to the overall budget in a final budget vote.
There is one contested election on Town Meeting Day, according to Town Clerk Deborah Aldrich. Tami Ravlin will challenge incumbents Thomas Bock and Arunas “Arne” Jonynas for two one-year seats on the Chester Select Board.
Town meeting voting on articles from the floor begins at 6 p.m. March 4 on the second floor of Chester Town Hall. Australian ballot voting will take place on Town Meeting Day, March 5.
For more information call the town office at 875-2173.