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Chester board proposes to curb taxes by changing health care plans

The Town Chester Municipal Center is now depending on the power of the sun to provide electricity, as arrays of solar panels were hooked up the last week in September. Savings from solar power, reduction in assessor's salary, a change in health care plans, and delay of vehicle purchases are all contributing to the town's ability to keep its 2013 budget under the state's mandated tax cap.

The Town Chester Municipal Center is now depending on the power of the sun to provide electricity, as arrays of solar panels were hooked up the last week in September. Savings from solar power, reduction in assessor's salary, a change in health care plans, and delay of vehicle purchases are all contributing to the town's ability to keep its 2013 budget under the state's mandated tax cap. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Among the appropriations are $30,000 towards a fund to bankroll a new roof for the town municipal center.

Savings include delaying purchase of a large truck for the highway department, representing a savings of about $125,000.

Also, $47,000 was previously earmarked for costs associated with a revaluation to be conducted in 2013, and with Horicon putting off that project, this expense is to be postponed, Monroe said.

The budget calls the town’s highway department to spend a higher amount than in recent history for paving, Monroe said.

Since the onset of the recession, Chester has reduced its allocation for resurfacing its roadways — however in 2012 this appropriation was substantially increased, and 2013 calls for a slight increase over that sum.

In 2011, about $143,00 was appropriated for paving, and in 2012, that sum was boosted to $254,000. For 2013, that allocation was increased to about $255,000, Monroe said.

“The roads were getting in bad shape — and the more you delay, the more it costs in the long run,” he said. “We are now working towards getting caught up on paving.”

The budget also allocates money to install three new stretches of guardrail — at Faxon Pond and on Pine St. and Igerna Road.

The budget also calls for the town to retire its debt associated with the reconstruction of the Starbuckville Dam. The town initially borrowed about $120,000 for the project, and the 2013 tentative budget calls for the remaining debt of about $13,000 to be paid off.

Solar power savings eyed

The town’s project to install arrays of solar panels at the town facilities is expected to save about $4,000 on utility costs.

That savings is expected to increase in the coming years, as the town council voted this summer to double the number of solar arrays at three of its four sites and increase the arrays at the other stie by 20 percent. Further savings on electricity costs is also expected as the town decreases its peak usage, which bears a premium cost, Monroe said.

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