Prospect to hold public hearing on budget

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ProspectBush2PROSPECT — The public will have the chance to weigh in on the town’s proposed 2013-14 municipal budget at a hearing Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

The Town Council held its final budget workshop last week. After that meeting, the council approved a budget of $7.4 million, which is an increase of approximately $451,000 or 6.5 percent over the current budget.

Mayor Robert Chatfield said a few changes have been made to the budget he originally presented last month. The changes include a $5,000 decrease in unemployment and a $5,000 increase to the heating of the town buildings.

Chatfield said the heating increase, which brings the heating line item to $95,000, will help pay to heat 11 town buildings as well as maintain the furnaces.

This is also one of the areas that the council has had to transfer money into out of the contingency fund in the past, which is a problem Chatfield is trying to eliminate by increasing those individual line items in the proposed budget.

During last week’s budget workshop, the council created a new line item under the contingency account called “Transfer by Town Council.”

The $75,000 proposed for the line item is to cover expenses in the case of serious and unforeseen problems that may arise, such as the removal of ice and snow after a severe storm, Chatfield explained.

“If our weather pattern is going to change we have to start being prepared for it,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield, who is currently working on his 36th town budget, said this year’s budget process is proceeding the same as in previous years with no major surprises.

“I answer the questions that are asked (from the Town Council),” Chatfield said. “I’ve done it a lot of time. I know what the needs of the town are.”

Chatfield said he is doing what he can to be frugal, but Prospect is growing and there is more traffic now than ever before.

“Everybody knows I am very, very frugal. I am as frugal as I can be but I do have services I have to supply,” Chatfield said. “We have to provide services and protection to people.”

A town meeting to vote on the budget is scheduled for April 17 at 7 p.m. at Community School. All Prospect residents 18 and older are allowed to show up and vote.

The proposed increase in the town budget doesn’t include the Region 16 Board of Education’s budget. The school board is expected to finalize its budget this week and present it at a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 10 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls.