CHESTER – Residents who packed the Chester Meeting House at the Jan. 23 town meeting unanimously approved seven authorizations to transfer monies from one account to another and to expend monies saved up for in Capital Reserve accounts.
Most of the transfers were “budgetary housekeeping” and were projects approved by town residents in the fiscal year 2006-07 budget referendum, First Selectman Tom Marsh said.
Perhaps one affecting most residents is the modernization of the Chester Public Library which was advanced through the authorization of $12,000 for the purchase and implementation of the VERSO Automated/Remote Access Library Management System.
According to Chester Public Library Director Linda Fox, the system will allow the library to transition from the old card catalog to an online computer accessible both inside and outside the library.
“I think we can add more shelving in the children’s area without the card catalog there,” Fox said, adding that “some people will be sad to see it go and some will be glad.”
Visitors will be able to view items and their status in the collection on VERSO, reserving items they want to check out, as well as having the ability to view and renew items they have already checked out, Fox said.
Two computers, one for patrons and one for staff, will be added to the library exclusively for access to the online card catalog.
Sharon Cromwell, Chair of the Chester Public Library Board of Directors, said that “any Chester citizen can access certain library resources 24/7.”
Fox said volunteers have already started the process of barcoding books to allow the library to scan when items are borrowed or returned and that newer books are being added to the VERSO system rather than the card catalog.
While the VERSO system is not yet available online, Fox said once the system is up and running it “will make a real difference for everyone here.”
Fox said the annual subscription costs to be $3,750.
“It’s a good solution for a small library,” Fox said adding that in the long run it’s hard to see how much it will cost since the system will free up staff members to spend more time providing services to library patrons.
Chester Public Library is one of the last libraries in the area to become automated, Fox said.
Other libraries that already have VERSO include East Hampton and the Saxton Library in Columbia.
The most expensive item discussed was $465,000 2006 Spartin Rescue Pumper Truck.
Funds for the truck have been saved in the Capital Reserve Truck Replacement account.
While the Chester Hose Company, which provides fire protection, rescue, and haz-mat emergency service for the Town of Chester, has looked to purchase a pumper and ladder truck in the past, Marsh said such estimates were upwards of $750,000 to $800,000.
“Many said that was too expensive so we asked the fire department to reevaluate their needs for a less expensive solution,” Marsh said.
According to James Gryzbowski, the 2006 Spartin Rescue Pumper Truck will replace the department’s 1986
International rescue and the 1974 Maxim pumper.
“It combines the functions of two trucks into one,” Marsh said, adding that it will reduce the amount of personnel needed to respond to a fire at a time when it is tough to find people willing and able to volunteer on the fire department.
Gryzbowski said consolidating operations into one vehicle will also save the department in repair and replacement in the future.
No residents spoke against the truck while one resident said it is important for the fire department to get the equipment they need.
The second most expensive item on the agenda was a proposal to designate $30,000 from the Capital Reserve Undesignated Account into the Highway Equipment Account.
The funds will be used for the purchase of a mason dump truck for the Public Works Department, Marsh said.
The fourth most expensive item, $28,000 for repairs of equipment and ground cover at North Quarter Park, comes at a time when Parks and Recreation Commission Director Elizabeth Netsch thought that all equipment at the park would be completely wore out.
Part of the equipment installed in 1986 has proven to have lasted a long time and is expected to do so, Netsch said.
A worksheet passed out at the meeting showed that funds will be used to create a toddler playscape with slide pads, replace swings and swing pads, turn logs on the existing Big Toy, remove only some old equipment, put down 50 yards of surface material, and prune trees around the playground.
Leftover funds in the Capital Reserve Kitchen Equipment account were reallocated for two purposes.
The first is for $6,000 for the Cedar Lake Nuisance Plan, part of an ongoing effort to scrape evasive plants in Cedar Lake, Marsh said.
The second is for $5,812 for building repair of the Public Works Department building.
$5,000 leftover from the Capital Reserve Septic System account was reallocated to the Dam Repair Account for a
project to repair dams throughout Chester, Marsh said.