Chester Voters Approve $16 Million Budget at Town Meeting
Town electors in Chester voted to approve the $16 million budget for the 2023-’24 fiscal year, along with other capital and non-budgetary line items, at the annual town meeting on May 23.
The approved budget calls for a total of $16,094,606 in expenditures, representing a 4.99% increase from the current year’s budget, which is currently operating under $15,329,800 in town expenditures.
Chester will continue to operate under the current year’s budget until its expiration on June 30. The approved budget will go into effect on July 1.
Education spending for both Chester Elementary School and the town’s stake in Regional School District 4 account for 66% of the entire budget, with a total of $10,714,600.
The approved capital budget is $664,250 for the next fiscal year. This total is a 19.14% increase, or $106,735, above the current capital budget. The increase marks a significant budget driver as the town continues to “set aside funds for major purchases and maintenance of infrastructure,” according to the Board of Finance.
The capital expenditures revolve around protecting and maintaining the quality of Chester’s infrastructure ecological assets, keeping the town hall well-equipped and up-to-date with building codes, and supporting public safety services. In the former category, town electors approved $78,000 in capital expenditures to preserve Cedar Lake’s water quality and ecological integrity and tree removals.
Electors also approved $22,750 for the town hall to install new computer and office hardware and $63,250 to keep the building up-to-date with standards according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
In the public safety category, the fire department was approved for $45,000 for equipment replacement, while electors also approved $75,000 for a new cruiser for the police department. Overall, the public safety department is seeing a 5.35% increase in expenditures, with a total of $1,122,607 in their section of the 2023-’24 town budget.
Town electors approved $537,000 for new trucks and equipment and road/sidewalk/bridge repairs by the Public Works and Road Department. The Public Works department is seeing a 12.34% increase in expenditures, with a total of $1,115,160 in their section of the 2023-’24 town budget.
Capital expenditures of $85,000 were approved for indoor and outdoor infrastructural repairs and enhancements at Chester Elementary School.
In the category of ARPA expenditures, town electors approved $2,500 to be appropriated to initiate a food scraps program at the elementary school. This would round out all three elementary schools in the tri-town region, including Deep River Elementary School and Essex Elementary School, as having food scraping programs.
Town electors approved $6,500 in APRA funds to fund a fence to be constructed at Chester Public Library.
The line item at the town meeting was “to approve an ordinance making the Town Treasurer an appointed position rather than elected.”
First Selectman Edmund Meehan said it would mark a “progressive” move for that position to be “ministerial” in its responsibilities and get them done more efficiently. The line item was approved by electors.
Reflecting on the expenditures, Meehan reiterated from the previous town meeting that Chester remains “in very good shape.” He said that the newly adopted budget would continue to support the town’s solid standing regardings its finances and in providing essential services to its residents.