PROSPECT — Mayoral candidate Anthony Dorso wants to reign in property taxes for what he sees as the town’s “out of control” spending.
On Nov. 8, Dorso will challenge long-time incumbent Republican Robert Chatfield in hopes of bringing forward new ideas to what he views as a stagnating town.
Dorso, an unaffiliated candidate, is running on the Democratic ticket.
Dorso graduated from Post University with a degree in finance and managed a $9 million budget for the federal government before opening up his own business, Custom Grounds, in Prospect. Dorso currently serves on the Inland Wetlands Commission.
If elected, Dorso said his main goals would be increasing transparency in government, decreasing town spending and taxes, and working closer with Region 16.
Dorso said property taxes in Prospect have gone up 300 percent in the past 25 years while town spending has gone up 600 percent. In comparison, he said, property values have only increased 20 percent. Town spending has increased 8 percent annually while inflation only rose at 3 percent, Dorso said.
“The numbers just aren’t proportional,” Dorso said.
Dorso vowed to cut 5 percent from the town’s budget in his first two year’s in office.
“There is room to cut in the current budget while still maintaining the infrastructure in the town,” he said.
Dorso said Prospect has a lot of unnecessary expenditures, like $300,000 for a new ball field and nearly $1 million for a new fire truck and tri-axle dump truck. He said that money would have been better spent on infrastructure.
If elected, Dorso said he would create a long-term plan for maintenance, water lines, and repairing roads and pay for the projects as they come rather than issuing bonds, which he felt are nothing more than glorified loans.
“If you have a plan in place, you can pay for those projects with the revenue you bring in,” Dorso said.
One thing that could bring in more revenue is bringing more business into town.
Dorso said Prospect currently has no plan for economic development. He said he would get business owners together to help boost the town’s tax base.
Prospect has an ideal location, near Route 8 and I-84, to attract more businesses, he said.
Dorso said Prospect currently lacks sound management and transparency.
If elected, Dorso said he would post monthly expenditure reports on the town website and local newspapers, so people can see every dollar accounted for. Currently, he said, if the town has a surplus, no one knows where that money goes.
Dorso said he would improve the town website, update it more frequently, and send Town Hall employees to class to learn to use the website.
“It’s 2011. Everybody owns a computer,” Dorso said.
He said most communication is now on-line or over cell phones. Currently, town meeting minutes are not posted in a timely manner, he said.
“That would be a priority to bring the Town Hall into the 21st century,” Dorso said.
Another priority for Dorso is working closely with Region 16 to anticipate future needs of the schools since the district receives the bulk of tax money in town. The regional school budget is prepared and voted on separately from the town budget, but that shouldn’t stop the two from working together, Dorso said.
“I think a working relationship is better than no relationship,” Dorso said.
Dorso also felt Prospect doesn’t do enough to help its oldest residents. If elected, Dorso said he would freeze property taxes for everyone over 68 years old, who meet certain financial guidelines.
Dorso said he would also help the town’s youngest residents by supporting youth groups.
“It keeps the kids out of trouble,” he said.
For the most part, Prospect is a quiet town, but one issue brought out neighbors on both sides last year.
Dorso said the town mishandled the Wind Prospect proposal, which would have placed two commercial wind turbines in town.
“I believe it was wrong from the start,” Dorso said.
Dorso said he would have held informational meetings about the project before it went before the Siting Council. He said it’s the mayor’s job to seek public input and keep residents informed about what’s going on.
“It was the mayor’s responsibility to realize it was a huge project,” Dorso said.
If residents had known about the project earlier, he said, they could have saved a lot of money and aggravation fighting the project.
Dorso acknowledged that his opponent has more experience in office, but he pointed out that Chatfield was a bus driver when he became mayor. With his degree in finance and 10 years of business experience, Dorso said he will be ready to learn a lot on the job and bring a fresh outlook to the town he felt has been stagnant over the past 30 years.
“It’s the people in the town that make the town great. And I think a lot of people, under the current administration that we have, get shut out of the whole process and their input gets put aside because people don’t want to listen to new ideas. …Without those different points of view, the town’s never going to progress, never going to move forward. … If the people of Prospect really want to see the town move forward, they’ll decide come Election Day,” Dorso said.