Cheshire has experienced its fair share of hardship this past year.
In addition to a global pandemic and an economic slump caused by it, Cheshire also dealt with multiple serious weather storms that left residents without power for days. Despite that, however, Town Manager Sean Kimball is optimistic for Cheshire’s future.
At the April 13 Town Council meeting, Kimball unveiled his 2021 goals and objectives for the coming year, passed unanimously by the Council.
“A lot of what we agree to here confirms that we are going to be prioritizing our time on what's most important,” Kimball said. “I appreciate all the feedback and support I’ve received from the Council in creating this.”
“These goals serve as a template to kind of keep us focused on what’s important,” continued Councilor Sylvia Nichols. “The objectives cover items surrounding the pandemic, what we need to do, what we have done, how we need to be promoting the vaccine and leading the community through that...In the economic development area we have objectives to work on, (such as) the north end utilities expansion and the parcel of the D.O.T (Department of Transportation) conveyance property. We are hopefully going to be hiring a coordinator for economic development grant writing…”
Nichols also touched on the numerous capital projects that the town has embarked on or will be starting in the next year, including the Bartlem South project, updating the towns public radio system, and completing the facility assessment and master capital plan for the Cheshire Community Pool.
Nichols mentioned that the Council will be launching various workshops in conjunction with Kimball in the coming months to address some of the upcoming projects and the logistics of each.
“The Council will come up with a more ambitious way to address a lot of these objectives in the fall to see if we can be more efficient about them,” she added.
According to the plan, five key goals are to be addressed by the Town in the next year.
“Goal one is to manage the Town of Cheshire’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect the health and safety of our residents and businesses while maintaining a full complement of municipal services and best positioning the Town for a strong post-pandemic local economy,” the plan reads.
Some of the key objectives for this include tracking eligible pandemic-related Town expenditures so as to pursue FEMA reimbursement; expanding public availability and access to all town buildings which have been diminished due to the pandemic; and support the vaccine effort by Chesprocott.
The second goal, which has to do with finance, is to “ensure the continued strength and stability of Town finances through disciplined financial management and conservative budgeting practices.” Some of the key objectives of this goal are to seek out creative solutions to reduce spending and increase revenue while maintaining town services and develop a 2022 operating budget.
Goal three, focused on economic development, calls for “supporting strategic and targeted efforts to grow the Town’s grand list to lessen the tax burden on residents and existing businesses.” Objectives include increasing publicity and visibility of the Council’s adopted TIF (tax increment financing) District and Master Plan, and implementing additional recommendations from the 2017 Arnett Muldrow Market Assessment and Marketing Plan for the Town of Cheshire.
The fourth goal is to advance all key capital projects and major recommendations by the town, such as the School Modernization Committee.
The fifth and final goal is related to “Town Operations/Customer Service/Communications” which sets out to “improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of Town services with a focus on enhancing the user experience for residents, businesses, and visitors.”
These key objectives include items such as implementing an online job application system, improving capital project management and oversight, including formalizing a process for legal contract review, and completing the upgrades made to the brand new town website.
Council Chairman Rob Oris commended Kimball on the 2021 goals and objectives, attributing the town’s recent successes to Kimball’s forward thinking.
“We have been ranked by Money magazine as the Number 28 best place to live and Sean is one of the reasons why we have so much to be proud of,” Oris said. “We also have, in my opinion, the greatest financial team ever.”