Referendum to decide budget

PROSPECT — Voters in Prospect will have the final say on the proposed 2014-15 town budget.

A referendum on the municipal budget and a proposed $500,000 bond package for road repairs will take place from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the firehouse, 26 New Haven Road.

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

Mayor Robert Chatfield urged all residents to vote in favor of the budget.

“Nobody likes to pay taxes, but the town has a responsibility to its residents,” Chatfield said. “We have 60.2 miles of road, people from all walks of life who use the parks daily, the library, the senior center, police services, fire services, and have use of town buildings for civic organizations. The fields are kept up and maintained for all sports groups.”

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 backhoe for public works.

Chatfield said the new tanker truck will replace one that is 37 years old.

“After 37 years I guess you can say the fire department got its money’s worth,” Chatfield said.

The new loader backhoe would replace the one at the town’s recycling center, Chatfield said.

Chatfield said the budget also reflects increases in accounts that the town had to transfer money into this year, such as ice and snow removal.

“We had a very difficult and long winter. We even had a snow storm in April,” Chatfield said. “When it snows people don’t care whether the budget has been cut, they want their roads plowed and sanded.”

Chatfield said the overall budget increase is partially offset by some increases in revenue and the cuts to the spending plan.

According to Chatfield, the town was able to cut approximately $30,000 out of health care, approximately $15,000 from debt services and approximately $10,000 from worker’s compensation insurance.

Chatfield reminded residents that the municipal budget is only a small portion of their overall tax dollar.

“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’s proposed $39.7 million budget for the coming school year was approved at a referendum Tuesday. The school budget will increase the net education cost for Prospect by $628,923, or 3.9 percent, to $16,721,945.

The second question at the town referendum will be a $500,000 bond package for grinding and milling town roads. The package will not have any financial impact on the proposed 2014-15 budget.

Chatfield said the money is targeted for work on 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 said the town is still gathering information to see what other streets it would grind and mill, but those were the ones that stood out as being in the most need of work.

Chatfield said this bond was the only way these streets would see the work they needed.

“If this part of the budget does not pass what you see is what you’re going to get. I don’t have money to fix them,” Chatfield said. “Town roads are not like a bottle of fine wine. They do not improve with age.”

Chatfield said the entire budget, revenue sheet, budget handouts and salaries from similar-sized municipalities are available online at www.townofprospect.org.

Chatfield urged residents to contact him if they had any questions regarding the proposed budget.

“If you have any questions before you vote give me a call, and I will give you the factual answer,” Chatfield said.

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