Mayor presents $8.6M budget proposal

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PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield’s 2018-19 municipal budget proposal would increase town spending $227,664, or 2.69 percent, over the current budget.

Chatfield presented an $8.6 million spending plan to the Town Council last week. The budget doesn’t include education spending for Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

Two of the main driving factors for the increase come from numbers that are likely to change as the town gets closer to approving the budget.

The police department’s budget is going up $67,960, or 7.3 percent, to $997,891 in the proposal.

The majority of the increase is for the resident state trooper program, which the town currently pays 85 percent of and the state pays the other 15 percent.

As has happened the past few years, Gov. Dannell Malloy said he is thinking of shifting the entire cost of the program onto the towns that use it.

Each year, Malloy has pulled the number back to less than 100 percent, but higher than what the town’s previously paid.

If Prospect has to cover the entire cost in 2018-19, that would mean the cost of the program would increase $52,106 to $221,060.

The budget proposal also includes an increase of $54,360, or 7.67 percent, to $763,285 for employee benefits. Of that increase, $25,280 is for medical benefits.

The town switched to the Connecticut Partnership Plan, which covers state employees and about 40 municipal entities, last year. Since it is a state plan, rates for the upcoming fiscal year aren’t available until April, Chatfield said.

Chatfield said he budgeted for a 5 percent increase but expects the increase to be lower.

“If it comes back lower, we will be deducting that when we get to that part of the budget,” Chatfield said.

The budget also includes a 2.7 percent raise for all town employees, Chatfield said.

There is also an increase of $10,700, or 17.6 percent, to $71,500 in the elections and registrars budget.

The increase is due to the fact that there will be Republican and Democrat primaries for gubernatorial candidates this year, which is an election year for state offices, Chatfield said.

The increase in town spending could be offset when it comes to setting a mill rate by the $240,000 in additional revenue the town received due to an increase in the grand list, Chatfield said.

Chatfield called the budget “tight-fisted” while still addressing the town’s needs.

“I have to keep streets plowed and people safe. We now have the community center for people’s recreation. We are a very parks-oriented town,” Chatfield said.

The Town Council is expected to continue to meet and discuss the budget six more times before it is brought to a public hearing on April 17. After the public hearing, the budget will be voted on at a town meeting on May 2.