By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
PROSPECT — Mayor Robert Chatfield has proposed a municipal budget for 2021-22 that would increase town spending by 2.7%.
Chatfield presented his recommended $9.3 million town budget, which is an increase of $246,806 over current town spending, to the Town Council during a special meeting March 10.
Officials pointed to contractual costs, including 2.75% raises for employees, for driving much of the increase.
Council Chairman Jeffrey Slapikas said salary increases alone amount to $72,628.
Benefits and insurance are also a hefty expense. Combined, the cost of benefits and insurance is expected to increase $38,742 to $1.14 million.
Slapikas said Chatfield has done a good job with the budget so far. He called the proposal “a good steppingstone for the council to start our work on.”
The council will review the spending plan over a series of workshops before adopting a proposal to send to a vote in May.
A $60,453 increase, which includes $20,846 for raises, for the Prospect Police Department is the largest recommended increase for a town department. Under the proposal, the police budget would go up to nearly $1.08 million.
The police department’s request includes buying body cameras so each officer has their own designated camera, according to budget documents. The department has four body cameras now that are shared among 15 officers.
The budget also proposes to spend an additional $10,500 in the technology budget to create a part-time internet technology position.
The spending plan cuts $8,600 for Waterbury Youth Services to provide programing in town.
Chatfield said the town can adequately provide youth programming through activities run by Parks and Recreation at the Prospect Community Center as well as the Prospect Public Library.
“We can serve the same amount of kids but do it on our own,” he said.
Budget documents are available online at townofprospect.org and in the rear entrance of Town Hall.
The municipal budget proposal doesn’t include education spending for Region 16, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect.
The proposed school budget stood at $41.3 million, an increase of $579,404, as of last week. The spending plan is about $273,499 more than the school budget proposal presented in February. The increase comes from two new special needs students moving into the region, school officials said. The students are attending schools outside the region to meet their needs.
Prospect’s net share of the school budget is projected to increase about $1.06 million to $21.6 million, while Beacon Falls’ net cost is estimated to decrease $508,233 to about $10.3 million. The contrast is due largely to the percentage of Prospect students in the region increasing 1.75 points to 65%, which shifted more of the education budget onto the town.