The Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved an overall proposed municipal budget of $45,730,087, a $2,208,231 million or 5.07% increase over the 2021-22 budget of $43,521,856. The municipal budget also contains all debt service on bonding, including all school district projects.
The proposed mill rate, in spite of the large spending increase, is 0.5% of a mill, with the mill increase offset by a large increase in the motor vehicle grand list. A mill represents one dollar for every $1,000 in taxable property.
With the Board of Selectmen approving the budget at its January 26 meeting, the budget will move on for review by Board of Finance.
The January 26 meeting ended the BOS review of the 2022-23 town budget, with the selectmen hearing presentations from different department heads concerning their budgets.
The BOS heard from Edmond Town Hall, the Fire Department and the Department of Public Works at its January 20 special meeting, and from the CH Booth Library, Parks & Recreation and the Police Department at its January 24 regular meeting.
Edmond Town Hall
The Edmond Town Hall (ETH) proposed budget for 2022-23 is $196,884, a spending increase of $1,850 or .95% over last year’s budget of $195,034. Most of the increase stems from a $1,485 increase in Group Insurance.
Jennifer Guman of the ETH Board of Managers noted that the mission of the ETH is to “enrich the community by providing a place for generations of residents and neighbors to make memories by gathering to celebrate and enjoy arts, social, civic, sports, entertainment and milestone events and activities.”
Guman said that the ETH has faced a number of challenges over the last year, including increased rental cancellations and a reduction in steady renters of space due to COVID. The ETH has seen additional expenses for COVID-related sanitation, has had network issues, and faced rising concession expenses and building expenses, as well as difficulty sourcing concession items.
Guman cited a need for more staff to “help execute a comprehensive marketing plan,” with a marketing expert a particular need. She said that as the ETH’s business grows, the volunteers are finding it increasingly difficult “to keep up with everything.”
“We have limited staff — a skeleton crew,” said Guman.
Guman said the net income loss for ETH in 2022-23 of $30,290 is projected to be less than 2021-22, which was $51,253.
Fire Company Requests
The Board of Fire Commissioners presented a budget of $1,425,575 for 2022-23, a $12,469 or 0.88% increase over the 2021-22 budget of $1,413,106.
Major increases include $30,000 for dry hydrant repairs and an increase in funding for physicals by $6,400 due to increased necessity for them.
Fire house maintenance increased by $3,950, with maintenance for things such as alarms, boilers, generators, water and sewer, and sprinklers scheduled for the upcoming year.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said he had adjusted the proposed budget to include the 2.5% increase in wages that was approved town-wide, an increase across the department of $5,327.
An increase for fire hose from $27,430 to $44,802, a $17,072 increase, drew some questions from BOS members.
Selectman Maureen Crick Owen asked Finance Director Bob Tait to provide more detailed information on what was purchased last year for fire hose versus what is proposed to be purchased this year.
Jay Nesvesky of Botsford Fire Rescue said that the companies are using better quality hose, and there has been a shortage of it. He also said that how much money the departments need for fire hose can change a lot from year to year, depending on each department’s yearly needs and what wears out.
Tait said that capital expenditures for the fire departments have been reduced by $30,000, which is being replaced by grant money, and ARP funds of $15,000 for each of the five departments is being considered.
Department of Public Works
The DPW budget will increase from $8,232,627 in 2021-22 to $8,638,504, a $405,877 or 4.93% increase.
DPW Director Fred Hurley said the biggest increase is to roads, as the town has moved fully from borrowing for roads to paying for them out of the yearly operating budget, a $250,000 increase.
Hurley said that the first real change is under fees and professional services, $17,600 for the GPS system, and other costs have been moved there from the repairs and maintenance line item. The next big item is gasoline, which has increased from $226,500 to $330,150, a $103,650 increase.
He said that gas for the next year will cost the town $2.44 a gallon, which is “up from last year substantially.” Hurley said that the town won’t know how much diesel will increase because the bids will come in for those in February or March, with the new price effective in July.
Construction supplies is up to $40,000 from $30,000 last year. The town has “been getting killed on mailboxes [hit by plow trucks] in the last storm,” Hurley said. Additionally, the town is doing a lot more work in-house, meaning it needs more supplies to do that work.
“It’s an ongoing need with a good return on investment,” said Hurley.
The DPW is proposing more money for road patching materials, asking for $100,000 this year when it received $85,000 last year.
“The thaw/freeze cycle is happening more often than it used to,” said Hurley, noting it is a major source of damage to roads.
The DPW also has $200,000 budgeted for Transfer Station improvements, anticipating the possible necessity for making improvements there to handle increased dropping off of recycling. The town has faced a substantial increase in its recycling curbside pick-up contract and is looking at how best to handle that increase.
CH Booth Library
The CH Booth Library budget will increase to $1,432,152, a $24,531 or 1.74% increase over the 2021-22 budget of $1,407,621.
The library is seeing an $88,700 increase in total revenue, a 5.58% increase, according to Library Director Doug Lord. Fundraising covers the gaps in expenditures between the town’s contribution and the library’s operating budget. Lord said that wages increased $57,780. Equipment is increasing to $6,500 from $4,500 in 2021-22, a $2,000 or 44.44% increase.
Lord said that COVID has been accelerating its efforts towards increasing digital options for its patrons, giving “opportunities for the public to interact with the library 24/7.” The library has been utilizing Hoopla, which offers books, films, comics, and more, and usage of the service has increased by 25% since last year. The library is also working to make ancestry.com available to patrons at home instead of just the library.
The library offers “device advice,” coaching remote patrons on how to access services from whatever device they may be using. Library Board President Amy Dent said the current budget is $35,000 in deficit, which will need to come out of the fund balance.
Parks & Recreation
The Parks & Recreation 2022-23 budget will be $2,546,558, a $65,898 or 2.66% increase over the 2021-22 budget of $2,480,660.
Parks & Recreation Director Amy Mangold called it a “modest increase,” which reflects contractual and wage increases, including an increase in the minimum wage and an increase in the cost of materials. Seasonal salaries and wages increased by $27,493, an 11.26% increase over last year.
Ground maintenance increased $7,888 and general maintenance supplies increased $1,795, both a 5% increase over last year. Contractual services increased $10,784, a 3.59% increase.
Program numbers, while up from last year, are still showing the impacts of COVID.
Police Chief James Viadero reported that the 2022-23 budget will be $7,519,522, a $121,211 or 1.64% increase from the 2021-22 budget of $7,398,311. The majority of the increase is contractual wages, which increased $95,610 or a 2.21% increase.
The vehicles line item increased $9,435, or 10.36%; the department will be purchasing three new vehicles, one through the capital and non-recurring fund. A $15,000 JAG grant will go toward the replacement of a detective vehicle. Additionally, there has been an increase in the cost of upfitting police vehicles, which has been delayed.
Asset forfeiture funds were used to purchase police cameras.
Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.