EDITORIAL: Cheshire finishes fiscal year out of the red again

EDITORIAL: Cheshire finishes fiscal year out of the red again

(From the Cheshire Herald)

Things could always go better. Money, whether more or less of it, could always be spent in a wiser manner. There will always be complaints from residents — some valid, some not.

But the recent announcement from local leaders and administrators that Cheshire’s finances will once again finish a fiscal year out of the red should remind all that things could be a lot worse. In fact, the “state of the town” remains very healthy.

Municipal leaders deserve credit for that. There has been a level of consistency on the Town Council that has helped set a particular tone as far as what is to be prioritized and how the taxpayers’ money is to be spent. That has seemingly been of benefit the last few years, as Cheshire has not only had to navigate through difficult state economic waters but also was faced with a change in the town manager’s office.

Sometimes, the word “stability” is asked to do a lot of work in covering up for stale leadership that has run out of original ideas, but in Cheshire’s case it would appear that the recent status quo on the Council has paid dividends.

It is also impressive that Sean Kimball was able to step into the role of town manager and maintain the fiscal prudence of his predecessor, Michael Milone. While Town Hall is staffed with many longtime employees who no doubt steered Kimball in the right direction early on, it’s worth a tip of the cap to Cheshire’s new “head man” that the town remains in good standing, even after what could have been a difficult changing of the guard.

The School District also ends the year in decent shape, despite consistently receiving less in budget funds from the Town Council than is annually requested. Cheshire continues to boast one of the most respected and desired school systems in the state, one that affords graduating students a leg up on many of their competitors once they reach institutions of higher education or the workforce. That’s a credit to teachers and school administrators who find a way to do an excellent job year in and year out.

Again, nothing is perfect. There are always issues to be solved. The town still needs to boost economic development and find a way to attract developers to buildings and lots that have stood empty for far too long. Cheshire must address its aging infrastructure, especially its schools, in a way that doesn’t break the community piggy bank.

And the school system must seriously tackle lingering questions over how it communicates with parents and the ways in which it handles issues of bullying within the district. These are all serious matters that must receive focus in the near, not distant, future.

But in this moment it’s worth recognizing that, by and large, Cheshire is doing well for itself. That doesn’t happen by accident. That isn’t a “lucky break.”

Just ask any number of residents in the Connecticut communities that seem to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Bad leadership at the local level can have lasting consequences.

There will be time in the coming weeks and months — especially with an election on the horizon — to debate the problems in Cheshire. That’s the way it should be. But sometimes you have to take a moment and appreciate the good, and Cheshire still has plenty of that to offer.