By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Town Manager Kevin Mizikar presented his mid-year fiscal update to the Board of Selectmen at their Jan. 14 meeting. Included were accomplishments, challenges and general conditions of town operations.
“Every day I can honestly tell you that staff works hard to enable a high quality of life and keeping the community vibrant and making it a place where everyone can thrive,” Mizikar noted, thanking his team.
Pertaining to financials, Mizikar reported that the town received $110,308 more in local receipts than at this point last year; excise taxes are on pace; licenses and permits are up 22 percent and investment income is strong.
He shared that it was beneficial to have a separate recycling contract with Cassella Waste Systems and that utility revenues are where they should be.
They have used only $13,356 of a reserve budget of $233,000.
Under the Capital Budget, $2,441,500 has been spent on notable items such as the Police Station and Municipal Campus Feasibility Study, a new fire engine and highway, and police and parks vehicles.
Mizikar mentioned notable accomplishments, including the appointment of a new deputy fire chief and recruitment of seven firefighters and one police officer; the Town Center rezoning process; the Edgemere Drive-in redevelopment; hiring a new Water & Sewer Department superintendent; water and sewer main replacements; unidirectional flushing; Hex Chrome pilot planning; construction of a solar array at the water treatment plant; underground storage tank removal at various schools; hiring of a new council on aging director; instituting a flavored tobacco ban; and adding a youth services assistant position at the library.
In addition, the town was granted a coveted AAA Bond Rating and has certified the highest amount of Free Cash in the town’s history at $8,631,981.
While all of this is good news, the town is not without its challenges, according to Mizikar. These include the inability to fill a HVAC position due to salary constraints; water/sewer infrastructure conditions; PFAS detection and elimination in the water/sewer system; EEE mitigation; and outdated computers throughout departments.
Requests from the community are also considered, such as improving sidewalk conditions, increasing mental health support, and more hours and programming/IT training at the Shrewsbury Public Library.
He also said that the trash hauler perception is still a problem even though calls are decreasing. The hauler’s new trucks will come online in February which should resolve lingering concerns.
Mizikar concluded with this motto going forward – “build trust, use proven innovation and follow through.”
Selectman Beth Casavant noted that she appreciated hearing about the town’s challenges.
“It’s often difficult to talk about challenges, especially in a setting like this but I think that if we don’t talk about them then we can never address them so having them laid out this way is helpful,” she stated.