Prospect voters OK town budget


Elio Gugliotti, Editor

PROSPECT — Voters on May 13 approved the town’s 2021-22 municipal budget as well as money for road work and an amended recycling agreement at a town meeting.

The roughly $9.09 million municipal budget decreases town spending by $1,616 from this fiscal year.

“I think we did our due diligence as a council and the mayor and the mayor’s office to run a tight ship, get a good budget and present a good one to the taxpayers,” said Town Council Chairman Jeffrey Slapikas, who added he was pleased with the confidence residents showed in the town on the budget.

About 80 people turned out for the town meeting at the firehouse — the first public meeting the town has held since March 2020. The budget was approved by a voice vote with one “no” vote.

Mayor Robert Chatfield, who was thankful for the residents’ support of all three items on the agenda, said officials were able to hold the line on the town budget without cutting any services.

The council committed about $244,000 in anticipated surplus funds from this fiscal year’s budget to keep overall spending in check. Rather than put the surplus funds in the overall general fund, the money will be committed for the same areas in the 2021-22 budget where the surplus money originated.

Slapikas credited the town’s new auditing firm, Clermont & Associates LLC, with guiding the council to commit the funds.

“We were able to take stuff that we thought was going to be surplus and we committed it, so it saved the taxpayers money that way,” he said.

The municipal budget doesn’t include the town’s share of the $40.9 million 2021-22 school budget for Region 16, which is comprised of Beacon Falls and Prospect. The school budget increases Prospect’s net education cost $854,425 to about $21.4 million.

Coupled with education expenses, the town’s total budget is about $35.3 million.

Following the town meeting, the council tabled setting the tax rate so officials can get more information on state revenue coming to the town. The tax rate this fiscal year is 31.60 mills. The council is expected to set the tax rate for 2021-22 in June.

Slapikas said if the town receives more in state revenue it could help offset the town’s increase in the school budget, which he noted the council has no control over.

Voters last week also unanimously approved a resolution to borrow up to $800,000 for road repairs next fiscal year, including work on all or part of Dorothy Avenue, Clark Hill Road, Morris Road and Sherwood Drive.

Lastly, voters unanimously approved an amended agreement with Murphy Road Recycling that extends the town’s contract with the Hartford-based waste management company three years to June 30, 2024. Murphy Road Recycling disposes of recyclables collected in town.

Under the agreement, the town will pay $82.50 per ton of “acceptable recyclables” in the 2021-22 fiscal year, $85 per ton in 2022-23 and $87.50 per ton in 2023-24.

The town could face penalties if 16% or more of the loads delivered to the company are materials that are not considered acceptable recyclables. The company is allowed to charge the town $115 per ton if a load contains 26% or more containments, according to the contract.