Prospect, Cheshire want out of health district

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CHESHIRE — Two of the three towns in the Chesprocott Health District want to ditch the district.

The Cheshire Town Council last week directed Town Manager Michael Milone to look at other options, most likely joining another district.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said he will ask his town’s council Tuesday to allow him to look at joining another health district.

Cheshire, with 29,142 residents, is the largest of the three towns in a district that also includes Prospect with 9,494 people and Wolcott with 16,462.

Town leaders were unhappy to get a surprise request for money in May so the district could finish the fiscal year in the black, or shut its doors.

Each town was forced to pay the special levy of $1 per resident for a total of $55,098, which amounted to a sudden 15 percent increase in what the towns budgeted for health services.

As part of its $29,142 payment, Cheshire asked that the district provide it with financial information about revenue and expenditures. The district provided the information, reluctantly it seems, after a second letter from Milone a week before he was supposed to report to his council.

The report states the district ended June with a $32,381.52 surplus, most of it from the special levy to the towns. Its budget for the same year was $602,233.

The special levy was blamed on a drop of revenue for fees charged to businesses and residents for things like inspections. The bulk of the money to run the district comes from the three towns — $366,401 — and $101,931 from the state. The numbers do not include the special levy.

The way the district is run has increasingly become a concern for the towns.

Chatfield said he has been unhappy with the district for two years. The special appropriation in May was “the frosting on the cake.”

He said he has already talked with officials at the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, based in North Haven, and the Naugatuck Valley Health District based in Seymour.

Cheshire’s Town Council directed Milone to shop around for a health district and report back in a timely matter.

“We can’t be put up against the wall like we did in June,” Town Councilman James Sima said.