Letter: Budget request is too much

To the editor,

As Naugatuck police Chief Edson approaches the end of his four-year contract, it seems like very impeccable timing that he is now requesting a whopping 12 percent increase in the police budget, over three-quarters of a million dollars more. I recall just a few months ago the hemming and hawing over the current budget increase. Now the police chief has the audacity to ask, not for a modest increase, but a jaw dropping $790,000 more? Yeah, I know how the budget game is played. Ask for a lot, settle somewhere in the middle. I think it is time to stop settling.

According to last week’s article, the police chief wants three more officers at a cost of [about $58,000 each in salary for new hires] and increased overtime of $110,000. Can someone explain the need for both overtime and additional officers? How about the $115,000 for educational reimbursements. Do officers really need criminal justice degrees so they can hand out more tickets?

I did not detect an ounce of compassion from the chief in asking for such an increase. Nowhere in the article does he express the slightest concern for the cost burden to taxpayers. You know what they say about flies and vinegar chief. And to what end; a claim by the mayor that this will save us money later. More in pay raises, health care, training costs, patrol vehicles and eventually retirement benefits. All additional costs that will have to be paid later and all for the additional redundancy of officers looking for something to do. Exactly how does this benefit us later?

Taxpayers cannot just simply tolerate this and continue to quietly pay ransom to the City of Naugatuck so that chief Edson can send his troops to school. What about the public for a change? Are salaries going up? Are companies hiring more employees to relieve the burden of unemployment? Has the cost of living gone down? We all know the answer to that. Yet, we are expected to pay more and survive on an even smaller personal budget.

It is pretty sad that our annual fireworks show cannot withstand a petty-cash increase of a couple thousand dollars, however, we feel the need to spend nearly $800,000 more for police officers. Did anyone stop to think that crime would be lower if we gave people jobs to support themselves in the first place? We elected you, Mr. Hess, to represent the taxpayers, which means not allowing the board (or the police department) to go off on shopping sprees. The line needs to be drawn here. No more, Mr. Mayor. No more.

William Gittings