New Milford Public Works' budget came under scrutiny Monday during hearings at town hall.

Public Works Director Mike Zarba presented a $6.4 million budget proposal, but that figure was soon to be cut by Mayor Pat Murphy.

Sixty-nine percent of Public Works' budget presented by Zarba would be for operating costs; 9 percent for facility maintenance; 17 percent for operating capital; 1 percent for building capital; and 4 percent for the recycling center.

"Our budget request is intensive on preventative maintenance services," Zarba said, "and we have included reconstruction of our roads, bridges and buildings and replacement of our vehicles and equipment in our five-year capital plan."

The mayor left the operating budget proposal of $4.4 million intact but proposed $630,000 in cuts to the balance of Zarba's proposal.

A proposed amount of $585,000 for highway road projects was among Murphy's cuts, suggesting instead to use the town's capital reserve fund money for the 2014-15 construction period.

An additional cut of $40,000 for radio system replacement would be balanced with money coming from the emergency services communication funds to replace the system.

An additional $5,000 was cut from proposed air conditioning work at 25 Church St, the new art gallery opened in the fall and run by the Commission on the Arts.

Hiring a staff engineering draftsman/technician was suggested by town engineer Jim Rotondo but that position had not been calculated in Zarba's budget proposal.

The idea was floated Monday before the Town Council. At this time, consultants are hired by Public Works to fill this role.

Rotondo calculated there would be $95,000 in potential savings to the town annually by hiring an on-staff draftsman.

The recommended salary would be $67,500, with benefits included.

Budget hearings were set to conclude Thursday, March 6.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322