Voters reject proposed Prospect budget

Prospect resident Alexander Delelle, left, receives a ballot to vote on the proposed $7.4 million town budget from volunteer Kathleen Graveline while Deputy Registrar of Voters Betty Guevin looks on Monday at the Volunteer Firehouse of Prospect. The budget failed by 66 votes. –LUKE MARSHALL

Prospect resident Alexander Delelle, left, receives a ballot to vote on the proposed $7.4 million town budget from volunteer Kathleen Graveline, while Deputy Registrar of Voters Betty Guevin looks on Monday at the Volunteer Firehouse of Prospect. The budget failed by 66 votes. –LUKE MARSHALL


PROSPECT — Residents rejected the proposed 2013-14 town budget during a referendum vote on Monday.

The $7.4 million budget proposal was defeated with 501 votes cast against it and 435 votes for it. About 15 percent of Prospect’s registered voters turned out for the day-long referendum.

After the vote Mayor Robert Chatfield said that the Town Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to look over the proposed budget and see what could be removed.

“We’re going to get our erasers out,” Chatfield said.

The budget will go to a town meeting for a vote within 10 days, Chatfield said.

The proposed budget represented an increase of approximately $451,000 or 6.5 percent over the current budget. The proposed budget doesn’t include education expenses for Region 16, which oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls.

Major cost-driving factors in the proposed budget include health insurance, police department costs and a proposed reimbursement for firefighters.

Under the proposal, medical benefits would increase by $80,000, or 14.8 percent, to $620,000. The police department shows increases in the resident trooper program, which would increase by $5,721 to $111,680, and in officers, an increase of $53,440 to $498,000.

One of the proposed increases was a new line item for volunteer firefighters’ expenses at $33,600. Those funds would reimburse volunteer firefighters $7 per call.

The budget also included increases that were driven by the fact that the town had to transfer additional money into certain line items throughout the year. Many of those line items, including truck maintenance, snow and ice removal, and heating for the town’s 11 buildings, were increased.

The proposed budget also includes a new $75,000 line item under the contingency category called Transfer by Council. This line item would be the first account the Town Council transfers funds from in the case of a shortage.

Transferring from this new line item rather than from the town’s general fund, which is currently where the money for transfers comes from, will help rebuild the town’s fund balance, according to Chatfield.

Of the six residents who were interviewed after voting on Monday, all spoke in favor of the budget.

“I think it’s reasonable,” resident Alexander Delelle said of the budget. “The administration does a good job of pinching pennies. It has a long track record of doing that.”

However, the majority of the residents who voted were not pleased with the budget.