Mayor presents budget to council

PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield’s proposed 2019-20 municipal budget is now in the hands of the Town Council.

Chatfield’s proposal is $9.1 million, an increase of $466,930, or 5.4 percent, over the present town budget.

One of the largest increases in the spending plan is for the Prospect Police Department.

The department’s budget increases $134,673, or 13.5 percent, to $1.12 million, under the proposal. Most of the increase — $125,000 — comes in officer salaries.

Chatfield said the increase is for contractual raises and the town wants officers to cover more shifts. He said he did not want to hire more officers, but wanted to increase the police presence in the town.

Another spike in the budget is a $71,600, or 14.6 percent, increase for solid waste collection, which is expected to cost $550,667 next fiscal year.

The increase is almost entirely due to municipalities having to pay to dispose of recyclables soon. Municipalities don’t have a disposal fee or receive a reimbursement now for recyclables, but that is expected to change because China, which was the destination for much of the recyclables, has largely stopped accepting American recyclable material.

Chatfield said there are no firm numbers yet as to the cost of recycling collection, but he put $70,000 in the budget as an estimate.

The cost of town employee benefits is set to increase $61,686, or 8.08 percent, to $824,971.

Chatfield said the number is a best-guess estimate right now.

“I was told to add 8 percent because we don’t have the exact figures. Hopefully that line item will be able to come down,” Chatfield said.

While there are areas the council can look to trim the budget, Town Council Chairman Jeff Slapikas pointed out that $189,000 of the increase comes from contractual salary increases.

The municipal budget doesn’t include education spending for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The Board of Education is in the process of crafting its budget proposal.

Chatfield said he tries to be as careful as possible when creating the town budget.

“I pinch every penny I can,” Chatfield said.

The Town Council is expected to hold budget workshops through March and the first half of April. A public hearing on the budget will take place in April, followed by a town meeting scheduled to take place in the beginning of May.