Town Reviews Highs And Lows Of Pandemic-Year Financial Picture

Town Reviews Highs And Lows Of Pandemic-Year Financial Picture

On Thursday, April 22, the Cheshire Town Council was presented with the Town’s revenues and expenditures for the past year, at which time Financial Director Jim Jaskot and Town Manager Sean Kimball revealed that the Town went over budget by about $170,000 in pension expenditures for Town employees. 

“Unfortunately, as our actuaries completed their review of the experience … there were multiple things that worked against us,” Kimball said. “We had actually hoped that we had conservative numbers in our estimates. But ultimately what happened was that there’s been a down market, which means our investments weren’t quite as high (as we had hoped).”

“There’s about $170,000 additional (contributions) that are (needed) for next year’s budget,” added Jaskot. 

Kimball and Jaskot explained that the usual drivers for keeping the pension costs low are rate of death and rate of retirement, both of which worked against the Town this year, according to Jaskot.

“Generally the projections that I work with are on the conservative side, and I was kind of surprised to learn that those variables were working against us this go-around,” Jaskot continued. 

They also walked the Council through a summary of revenue and expenditures for other various Town departments and services for the next year.

“These numbers are based on the prior history of the percentage of revenue collected for the first nine months, and that’s how we project out for the current year where we think we’ll land,” explained Jaskot. “You have to take that with a little bit of a grain of salt with each of these because any big payments could skew it a little bit … although we’re looking at a banner year, the revenues that come in may come in spurts.”

Kimball explained that, overall, Cheshire has had an increase in revenue for the building department in the past two months, which he credits to strong local development and household projects.

“We had budgeted to receive $500,000 (from the building department) for this year based on years prior, but nine months in we are already at $558,000,” Kimball said. “We’ve had a lot of permits coming in, which continues to remain very strong for us. We feel comfortable with moving that number up to about $625,000 if the Council feels comfortable.”

Councilor Don Walsh asked Kimball if the Town had increased any building fees in the past year, to which Kimball said no. 

“My concern is, you don’t want to budget too high on revenue this year, and next year it could be a whole different thing,” continued Walsh. 

While Jaskot stated that he understood Walsh’s concerns, Jaskot explained that he had been reassured that the funds for the building department would not vary much for the upcoming year. 

In another move that was expected, the Council decided to extend its deadline to approve an operating budget past the normal April 30 date. Gov. Ned Lamont had issued an order allowing municipalities to extend the deadline if they so chose, all the way out to the end of June if desired. 

Town Councilors decided not to extend it that far, and set the new date for approval at May 28.

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