Cheshire town manager proposes $9 million capital budget

Cheshire town manager proposes $9 million capital budget


FILE PHOTO -- Town Manager Michael Milone

CHESHIRE — A $9 million capital budget proposed by Town Manager Michael Milone includes infrastructure improvements to the northwest section of town to draw business development.

Other items include road repaving, the second phase of a communications system upgrade and planning and design work for the newly-purchased Chapman property.

W/S Development Associates had planned a $100 million, 510,000-square-foot retail center off Interstate 691 and Route 10. Two years ago, the project was canceled with officials citing the slow economic recovery. Milone said another factor was the cost of bringing water and sewer access to that area of town. If Cheshire wants to increase its base of taxable properties, he said, it has to make such properties attractive to developers.

“In this case the suggestion is, we actually bring the water up there to reduce the costs for any potential development,” Milone said.

He also will propose to the changes to the town’s land acquisition policy to include buying land for development and not just open space. Brownfield sites, for example, could be remediated and then sold to a developer to get them back on the tax rolls.

Milone acknowledged there was risk, but said the town has to consider ways to increase revenue, particularly with the state’s financial situation.

“Basically what you’re doing is getting into the development game,” he said.

Tim Slocum, a Republican councilor and chairman of the council’s budget committee, said the $1.35 million project to extend water lines could have merit but that he’d like to see a cost benefit analysis on the plan. Bringing water to the property would make it more attractive to developers, he noted.

“We knew it was one of the issues,” Slocum said.

He wasn’t sure if he supported changes to the land acquisition policy, but said it might be something the town could use in combination with expanded tax incentives and reduced fees to attract business.

“There’s many things we can do in combination,” Slocum said.

He called Milone’s capital budget “fairly bare bones.”

The Town Council must approve a capital budget for the current fiscal year by November, Milone said. The council has usually adopted a budget much sooner to allow items greater than $400,000 to be placed on the November ballot for referendum. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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