Police, fire departments present budget requests

The Naugatuck police and fire departments presented their budget requests to the Board of Finance Monday night. –FILE PHOTO


NAUGATUCK — The police department requested a 6.1 percent budget increase for next fiscal year in a presentation to the Board of Finance Monday night, while the fire department asked for an essentially flat budget.

The police request, presented by Police Chief Christopher Edson and Deputy Chief Joshua Bernegger, amounts to $6.4 million overall, a $368,000 increase over this fiscal year.

Fire Chief Ken Hanks asked for $3.7 million, an $8,200 decrease from this fiscal year, for the fire department’s operating budget.

In a separate presentation for the East Side Fire Station, however, he asked for $2,800 for building repairs, including energy efficient lighting.

Edson’s request included about $281,000 more for payroll, which would cover two new positions — a patrolman and a dispatcher — in addition to early retirement payouts, contractually mandated raises and holiday pay for new hires.

The dispatcher’s union asked for the additional position because dispatchers have often found themselves covering extra shifts when someone calls out sick or goes on vacation. If things get particularly busy, a sergeant has to fill in, Edson said.

“Toward the end of the fiscal year when people want to start using vacation days, we’ll be ordering people in to meet shift minimums,” Edson said.

Edson said adding another patrolman would free up an officer to oversee the borough’s animal control facility, which remains leaderless since former Animal Control Officer Kristy Sturges resigned last May in the face of a state investigation that concluded she committed cruelty to animals.

The Board of Education could cover $30,000 of the cost of a new patrolman in exchange for a school resource officer at City Hill Middle School, Edson said.

The police department also requested more money for training, per a new state law requiring municipalities to pay for classes at the state police academy, Edson said. More money was also requested for officers to take criminal justice courses, which many are doing to gain promotions, officials said.

The fire department, in contrast, requested less for payroll than it will use this year, but the amount in raises firefighters will make next year remains unknown until a new contract is negotiated. The current contract ends June 30.

The fire department in April will put forward a capital budget request exceeding $1 million, which covers new SUVs, a new engine and two engine refurbishments, a new roof and new windows.

Board of Finance members began revising the budget and making cuts, but numbers will not become final until May, when the town’s budget is adopted.

In light of many vacancies caused by the police early retirement program, board members suggested cutting two patrolmen and the proposed new dispatcher out of the police’s budget request.

“This is based on them being staffed at 100 percent for the full fiscal year, and the chief indicated that might not be the case,” Finance board Chair Robert Butler Jr. said.