Chestertown’s fiscal 2021 draft budget adopted Monday, May 18, includes a 2 percent across the board cost-of-living increase for all municipal employees, including the Chestertown Police Department.
Currently, CPD has been operating with nine officers but the draft budget funds 12. The council will again consider the budget after “some tweaks” at the next budget meeting on June 1.
The cost for the raises comes to $33,000 and are more than paid for with $55,000 in revenue from permit fees for two large projects and a private donation of $19,000 to cover half the cost of the economic development office.
Employees in the utilities department will also see a 2 percent increase, but their increase will come out of the utilities budget, which is separate from the town’s budget. The cost of raises for the utilities department comes to $11,000.
The town also found savings in eliminating costs that will not be incurred this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The recreation budget was reduced from $5,000 to $1,000. The Main Street budget was also reduced from $5,000 to $1,000 and Music in the Park was eliminated for a savings of $4,500. These budgets are likely to be restored when community life is again unrestricted and revenue projections return to normal.
In adopting the draft budget, Mayor Chris Cerino expressed that raises were needed to retain employees.
“I would like to do something for the staff because I feel that otherwise we’re going to have retention problems,” Cerino said. “But we still have to be conservative.”
Town employees last received a raise in 2018.