The level of spending -- in this case, very low -- by New Milford's Economic Development Commission is coming under scrutiny.

The first evening of budget hearings in New Milford Tuesday found the joint board of Town Council and Board of Finance members questioning the commission's spending during the current fiscal year.

At issue is to why the commission would need an additional $30,000 for 2012-13 when, through eight months of this fiscal year, just $4,778 of the amount budgeted for 2011-12 had been spent.

"I propose to take a more aggressive approach to advertising and marketing the town," explained Christopher Blocker, the new economic development supervisor.

"I propose creating a scenic tour tourism map to highlight aspects of the town for out-of-town visitors," Mr. Blocker said. "I plan to develop marketing collateral (in the form of brochures and DVDs) to be used when interested investors come to town."

Plans also include taking out ads in national magazines and journals, with online sites targeting high-end investors and businesses, he said.

While not a commission member, Mr. Blocker said he would "present the logical aspects of proposed projects, then it would be up to the commission to act or not."

Members of the joint board asked whether the balance of $25,222 remaining in the EDC's 2011-12 budget could, in fact, be used before the end of this fiscal year.

Tom Esposito, an Economic Development Commission and Town Council member, assured those on hand the $25,222 would be utilized and the additional $30,000 would be needed.

"We plan to enhance our (EDC) website and upgrade the town website -- to aggressively market the town," Mr. Esposito said. "With Chris on board with some exciting ideas, we're ready to move forward."

Mayor Pat Murphy supports the EDC spending.

"For years we had a $4,800 budget for economic development," Mayor Murphy said, "but you can't drive traffic to the town on that amount."

She added the town's present marketing materials are of poor quality and ineffective.

"They're going to spend this money wisely and drive people to New Milford," the mayor said.

The 2012-13 budget proposal for the Economic Development Department, which Mr. Blocker heads, proposes a $5,608 savings in personnel since Mr. Blocker's $64,000 annual salary is less than former supervisor Vin Nolan's.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322