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Windsor Town Council adopts budget, rates

The Windsor Town Council voted unanimously 4-0 on June 8 to adopt a $3.7 million fiscal year 2021-22 draft budget and the tax and water rate resolutions, which included no changes to the current real estate tax rate, personal property tax rate or the meals tax rate, but there is an increase in the water rate.

The water rate will increase by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons of water. The rate applicable to all categories of Windsor water customers who are within the boundaries of the town limits will be $7.75 per 1,000 gallons purchased by the customer, and the rate applicable to all categories of Windsor water customers who are outside the boundaries of the town limits will be $8.25 per 1,000 gallons purchased by the customer.

Town Manager William Saunders noted in his draft budget that the 25-cent increase was slated for last fiscal year but was not implemented at that time.

Saunders indicated that council members Walter Bernacki and Kelly Blankenship were not present at the June 8 council meeting due to work and a personal matter, respectively, but he said both had already given their input on the budget to him previously.

The June 8 meeting began with multiple public hearings, including those on the subjects of the FY 2021-22 budget, the change in the water rate, the FY 2022-26 Capital Improvement Plans of the Town of Windsor, two amendments to the FY 2020-21 budget and the amendment of the town code to reflect the change of the real estate tax year to the July 1-June 30 fiscal year and the real estate tax due date to June 5.

No one from the public spoke at any of these five public hearings.

There was little to no discussion among council members prior to the board vote to adopt the FY 2021-22 budget and the tax and water rate resolutions.

Windsor Mayor Glyn T. Willis said most of the discussion was taken care of in a May 25 budget work session and one-on-one meetings with Saunders.

“We’ve worked through things, and they’re looking pretty good,” Willis said in a June 9 interview. “(After) a lot of the concerns we were having last year this time about revenue impacts of COVID and that sort of thing, we’ve come out of COVID in a good financial situation.”

He noted the town has historically acted in accordance with a mindset geared toward saving money now for spending later as opposed to borrowing money now and spending it now.

“So, we continue to be in that situation as we head into another year,” he said.

This was the first time navigating the Windsor budget process for Saunders, who began his duties as the town’s manager Aug. 17, 2020. He succeeded Michael Stallings, who now manages the Town of Smithfield.

“Michael did last year’s budget,” Willis said, “and Michael is in Smithfield now, so William and Michael were able to work together to say, ‘Here’s the package, here’s how I put it together in the past’ and give him advice and help out on that. So we appreciate Michael’s continuing to look after and kind of help William through this first year.”

Willis affirmed that overall, he felt the 2021-22 budget process — from proposal to adoption — went fairly smoothly, even finishing earlier than usual.

“My recollection is we usually have a second council meeting in June where we’re finalizing the budget, where we were able to essentially get ahead of that and take care of that in the second Tuesday meeting,” he said.