Town Eyes Possible Referendum Items As Capital Budget Decision Looms

Town Eyes Possible Referendum Items As Capital Budget Decision Looms

Of the 40 proposed capital projects Town Council members discussed on Tuesday night, at least six would require the approval of town voters on the November ballot.

Those projects include $310,000 to upgrade security in school and municipal buildings.  Voters will also decide whether to fund $1.7 million in road improvements and a $1.8 million project to repair the West Johnson Bridge. A state Department of Transportation inspection of the bridge revealed a vertical crack in a beam above one of its abutments.

Including the referendum items, the town’s capital budget request for this fiscal year totals more than $11.5 million.

At a special meeting Aug. 27, the council is expected to adopt that capital budget, approve the proposed five-year capital plan and referendum questions.

Most of the items listed on the capital improvement plan are moving forward. The council removed $140,000 for stage, light and audio equipment for  entertainment events and $130,000 to improve the Harmon Leonard Jr. Youth center. A $400,000 budget line for land acquisition will be reduced to $100,000.  Those funds were reallocated into other proposed budget lines — including a $400,000 townwide project to upgrade buildings with LED lighting.

The capital budget recommendations discussed Tuesday night boosted funding to improve town parks from $150,000 to $590,000, meaning the item may go to voters in November.

Cheshire Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak and Town Manager Sean M. Kimball presented the council with a list of capital projects for the town’s parks that was ranked by urgency.

The list includes replacing worn playground equipment and fencing at Bartlem Park and upgrades to other town fields.

Town Council Chairman Rob Oris Jr. was among the council members who were in favor of reallocating funds originally meant for land acquisitions to finance projects on the parks list.

“I think we have to start investing more dollars into maintenance and improvement, and a little less dollars in land acquisition,” Oris said.

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