Town wins budget award

By Jason Harris - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Mon., Jan. 28, 2013
Colchester First Selectman Gregg Schuster said he is proud of the town's award. Photo by Jason Harris.
Colchester First Selectman Gregg Schuster said he is proud of the town's award. Photo by Jason Harris.

Colchester was recently awarded the “Distinguished Budget Presentation Award” by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. “I’m very honored that we were recognized in this fashion,” said First Selectman Gregg Schuster. “I think it’s a great achievement. I think it speaks volumes about the efforts we go through to make sure people understand the budget and where their tax dollars go.”

According to the GFOA’s website, the award is given to towns, cities, counties or other government entities that meet the organization’s requirements of transparency, detail, explanation and comprehensiveness. The award’s criteria is that an entity’s budget document must be proficient as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device that is available in either an electronic or hard copy format, regardless of the length of the budget period.

“The GFOA established the Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program in 1984 to encourage and assist state and local governments to prepare budget documents of the very highest quality that reflect both the guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the GFOA’s best practices on budgeting and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal,” according to the website.

The town had to submit a form along with the budget to be even considered for the award, Schuster said. This was the second time the town has tried winning this honor, he said. Out of 169 municipalities in Connecticut, Colchester is one of only 15 that have received this recognition, and only the second town that has a selectman form of government.

“When I took office, the budget was essentially just a book of numbers,” Schuster said. “We really wanted to do more than that. We want to put together a blueprint with what we do with all the departments’ activities on there.” It shouldn’t just be a book of numbers where people know only what the town is spending, Schuster said.

“People should know what they are getting for their tax dollars,” he added.

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