Prospect budget heading to town meeting

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Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield discusses the proposed $7.43 million town budget during a hearing Tuesday night. –LUKE MARSHALL
Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield discusses the proposed $7.43 million town budget during a hearing Tuesday night. –LUKE MARSHALL

PROSPECT — The fate of the proposed $7.43 million town budget now lies in the hands of voters.

Mayor Robert Chatfield addressed each part of the budget during a public hearing on Tuesday before the Town Council. The proposal represents an approximate increase of $451,500 or 6.5 percent over the current town budget. The proposed town budget increase does not take into account any potential increase in the Region 16 school budget.

The budget includes more funds for line items, such as snow and ice removal and town truck maintenance, the town finds itself transferring money into on a regular basis.

Chatfield said he is trying to build the fund balance back up. The fund balance has decreased due to money being transferred to cover the expenses of dealing with the five major storms in the past three years.

Chatfield is also proposing to help rebuild the fund balance with a new $75,000 line item under the contingency category called “Transfer by Council.”

Chatfield said in the past anytime there was an overage in any of the line items the money would come out of the town’s general fund.

“This line item [Transfer by Council] was put in there so that we go to this line item in the budget before we take money out of the general fund, which I’ve told you we are trying to build back up,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield said that he can not transfer money out of that line item without coming before the Town Council to get approval.

The budget also includes another new line item, called response reimbursement, under the fire protection category. The new item carries a proposed funding level of $33,600.

Assistant Fire Chief Bill Lauber said he has seen a dip in the number of volunteer firefighters, so the department has begun offering $7 reimbursements to those volunteers who respond to calls. Lauber said the reimbursement is for fuel since the volunteers are using their personal vehicles.

“We were one of the last towns in the area to do this,” Chatfield told the council.

About a dozen residents attended the hearing but made no public comments. Following the hearing, the council approved a town meeting to vote on the budget. The town meeting will be held April 17 at 7 p.m. at Community School. Any resident 18 years old and older is eligible to vote.