News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 4, 2012
Stonington Budget process begins with overview; eye on winter costs

by Alice Wilkinson

It’s still warm, the leaves are still on the trees, but at the October 1 selectmen’s meeting it was all about the cost of winter.

Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris told selectmen the town had received only two bids for winter sand, from Brian Billings and Skip Eaton. Eaton’s lower bid of $15.80 a yard was accepted. She said that there is still about 2,000 yards of sand left from last year’s supply, so she will order an additional 1,500 yards now. The price is guaranteed through the snow season, so if more is needed it can be ordered.

That good news is balanced by some not-so-good news. The budget at this point in the year, with one quarter to go, shows what needs to increase for next year and what can remain the same.

Two areas which will need more money are fuel oil for both the town hall and the fire station. Billings-Pezaris attributed that to the increased cost of fuel.

The cost for town hall heat is already more than had been budgeted for this entire year, but she said that the cost can probably be made up from other areas in the town hall expenses category in the budget.

The cost of insurance, too, is “etching up” and will have to be adjusted in the next budget. A mixed blessing is the increased value for town-owned property. Although it is worth more, the cost of insurance is higher.

The budget also revealed that despite the Island’s relative isolation, it is not insulated from the economic problems of the larger world. Revenue from building permits is down from last year by 64 percent, from $8,300 to $2,958.