Referendum set for Prospect budget

PROSPECT — The Town Council has approved holding a referendum to decide the fate of the proposed 2014-15 town budget.  

The referendum will take place from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on May 12 at the firehouse, 26 New Haven Road. A town meeting on the budget will be held April 30 at 7 p.m. at Community School.

The decision to hold a referendum was made at a meeting April 16, the day after a public hearing on the budget.

Town Council Chairman Thomas Galvin said the council chose to do this so that no one would have to bring a petition forward to force the referendum.

Mayor Robert Chatfield said he supports the council’s decision since so many people petitioned for it last year.

The proposed budget is $7.56 million, which is an increase of $285,675, or 3.9 percent, over the town’s current budget.

Chatfield said the proposed budget has increased due in part because the current budget was cut in certain areas, such as ice and snow removal, that the town had ot transfer money to cover this year.

“Some of the things I had to cut in this budget we have had to transfer into,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield the proposed budget also includes money for sports, the library, senior center, police department, fire department, summer programs and children’s programs, as well as keeping the recycling center open throughout the year.

Chatfield said the municipal government’s budget is only a small portion of the residents overall tax cost.

“This is only 25 percent of your tax dollar. The other 75 percent of your tax dollar comes from the [Region 16] educational budget, which the town of Prospect has no authority or control over,” Chatfield said.

The Region 16 Board of Education has proposed a $39.7 million budget for the coming school year. The school budget proposal represents an increase of $1,247,618 or 3.24 percent over current spending in the district, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The net education cost for Prospect in the proposal is $16,721,945, an increase of $628,923 or 3.9 percent.

The largest increase in the municipal budget, $102,800, comes under truck leases. The increase is comprised of lease payments for a new tanker truck for the fire department and a new loader back hoe for public works.

The proposed budget also includes a nearly $47,000 increase in the police department budget and an additional $37,100 for the fire department.

Nearly $40,000 of the increase for the police budget will go to increases for officers and the resident state trooper, according to budget documents.

The increase in the fire department’s budget is made up mostly of new equipment, including replacing three self contained breathing apparatus units, new CPAP breathing equipment for the EMS personnel and four new rescue struts, which can be used to stabilize or lift cars at the scene of an accident. The new struts will replace the current setup the department uses.

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