Chatfield presents slight spending increase


Mayor Robert Chatfield presents his proposed budget to the Town Council Tuesday night. The proposal includes a $54,578 spending increase over this year's $6.9 million plan. –LARAINE WESCHLER

PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield recommended a $54,578 increase in town spending for the 2012-13 fiscal year at a budget presentation Tuesday night.

The spending plan is an increase of 0.8 percent over this year’s $6.9 million plan.

“I feel very good the fact that it’s only a $50,000 increase in these very difficult times. It shows that I am caring of every nickel and penny I spend of taxpayers’ money,” Chatfield told the Town Council.

The increase was spread out over a number of line items, with no single item going up or down significantly.

However, when it comes time to dole out taxes, the increase will be compounded by a 5.9 percent drop in the grand list. The major factor behind the drop was a 7 percent decline real estate values due in part to the economy and the recently completed revaluation.

“The housing market is in the tank,” Chatfield said.

The town’s current mill rate is 25.2 mills.

Chatfield said he expects decreases in some areas before the budget process is complete.

For example, the mayor’s recommended budget includes a $21,400 increase in liability and workers compensation insurance. Chatfield said he hopes to save a significant amount of money on insurance for town employees once the town jumps on the state’s plan.

Chatfield recommended a 2.5 percent salary increase for town employees. Last year, town workers received a 2 percent increase.

“Town work keeps going on. It doesn’t stop. We’re doing more with who we have,” Chatfield said.

The council approved 22 line items, that Chatfield said the town has very little discretion with, at the meeting Tuesday. Some of those items included a $3,500 increase for the pumpkin festival and a $1,000 increase for youth summer activities.

“We want to make it bigger and better than what it was last year,” Chatfield said of the pumpkin festival. He said between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the event last year.

Chatfield said he wanted to put more money than his recommended $4,400 increase for town roads, but after seeing the decrease in the grand list, he felt taxpayers couldn’t afford it.

“Roads are not like a bottle of wine. They don’t improve with age,” Chatfield said.

The next budget workshop will be March 12 at 5:45 p.m. at the Senior Center. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 3 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Any item can still be changed before the town votes on the budget at a Town Meeting April 19 at 7 p.m. at Community School.