Voters reject Prospect budget by narrow margin

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Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield, left, and Town Council member Stanley Pilat discuss voting figures Monday night at the firehouse. The budget failed at a referendum by seven votes with 449 voting against and 442 voting for it.  – LUKE MARSHALL
Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield, left, and Town Council member Stanley Pilat discuss voting figures Monday night at the firehouse. The budget failed at a referendum by seven votes with 449 voting against and 442 voting for it. – LUKE MARSHALL

PROSPECT — The town’s proposed 2013-14 budget fell short of passing by seven votes.

Residents turned out Monday to cast their votes during a second referendum on the proposed municipal budget, defeating it by a vote of 449 to 442.

The proposed budget was $7.3 million, which was an increase of about $341,000 or 4.9 percent over the current budget. It did not include education expenses for Region 16, which oversees schools in Prospect and Beacon Falls.

Mayor Robert Chatfield said the defeat was not overwhelming, but the Town Council now has to give thought to what the next step will be.

“I want to thank everyone who came out to vote,” Chatfield said. “We have to decide what to do next.”

The council voted during its meeting Tuesday night to hold a public meeting on the third budget proposal May 30 at 7 p.m. at Community School and scheduled a referendum for June 10. A special meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Town Hall to talk about changes to the budget.

The first proposed budget failed at an April 29 referendum by 66 votes, with 501 in favor and 435 opposed. After it was defeated the first time, the council removed $110,500 from the proposed budget.

The reduction included removing $62,000 from the contingency funds, limiting the hours of the recycling center to save $5,400, cutting $500 for the Mayor’s Fun Week, removing $2,500 from the Prospect Library’s book account and removing $1,000 from the snow and ice budget.

After making those changes, Chatfield felt that it would be difficult to take any more out of the budget without hurting town services.

“If they don’t [vote to pass this budget] we’ll unfortunately have to dismantle and take things away from other popular programs and accounts,” Chatfield said in an interview before Monday’s referendum.