Budget, bonding pass at referendum

PROSPECT — Officials went two for two at a referendum Monday.

Voters approved the town’s $7.56 million 2014-15 budget by a vote of 374 yes to 258 no.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to vote,” Mayor Robert Chatfield said after the results were announced at the Prospect firehouse. “There’s still some countries in the world that don’t have this privilege.”

The $7.56 million town budget is an increase of $285,675, or 3.9 percent, over the town’s current budget. The largest increase in the 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 backhoe for public works.

The tanker truck, which will replace a 37-year-old tanker truck, is expected to be delivered early next year, Chatfield said. The backhoe, which will be custom made in Iowa, is expected to arrive in town this fall, he said.

The budget also includes increases of roughly $47,000 and $37,000 for the police and fire departments respectively. 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

Voters also approved bonding $500,000 for grinding and milling town roads. The town is expected to bond the money this summer and the bonding will not have a financial impact on the 2014-15 budget.

The roads targeted for repairs include Straitsville Road from the town line to Porter Hill Road, Scott Road from Route 69 to Maria Hotchkiss Road, a portion of Matthew Street and a portion of Salem Road.

Chatfield again thanked those who voted on the bonding question for casting their ballot.

For those who didn’t support it, Chatfield joked, “We’ll still let you drive on the roads.”

The turnout was a little more than 10 percent. Town Council Chairman Tom Galvin said the turnout was a little low, but he’s happy the budget passed.

“I’m glad the majority carried the budget because it truly is a budget that will keep Prospect the best small town in Connecticut,” Galvin said.

Now that the budget has passed, Chatfield said, officials can move forward with setting the mill rate. The final revenue numbers are still being reviewed and the mill rate will be set in early June, Chatfield said.

The town budget makes up about 25 percent of residents’ tax dollar with the remainder paying for the budget for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

The $39.7 million Region 16 2014-15 budget was approved at a May 6 referendum. The school budget will increase the net education cost for Prospect by $628,923, or 3.9 percent, to $16,721,945.

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