Police request 3.1% increase in budget

Naugatuck Police Chief Christopher Edson, center right, and Deputy Chief Joshua Bernegger, center left, present the department’s 2017-18 budget request to members of the Board of Finance and Board of Mayor and Burgesses Monday night at Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Police officials presented the department’s $7.38 million budget request for the 2017-18 fiscal year Monday night to the Board of Finance.

The request would increase the police department’s spending by $228,402, or 3.1 percent, over its current budget. More than half of the spending increase comes in wages, which are set to increase $119,658, or 2.2 percent, to $5.4 million. The request also includes an additional $60,000 for overtime, which would increase the overtime budget 9.3 percent to $700,000.

The department is expecting six officers to retire during the 2017-18 fiscal year, Police Chief Christopher Edson said.

Deputy Chief Joshua Bernegger said the department plans to hire new officers throughout the year before the retirements occur. Between the police academy and in-house training, he said, it takes an officer nine months to be able to work shifts alone. By starting a new officer’s training before another officer retires, he said, the department will avoid paying higher overtime costs.

The net impact of taking this approach with new officers is about $10,000 more in salaries, since new officers will make less than veteran officers that will retire, Bernegger said.

The expected retirements will also impact the department’s retirement fund, which is used to cover the cost of retirement payouts. The retirement fund is set to increase $96,500, or nearly 49 percent, to $294,861 in the budget request.

The increases in the department’s request are partially offset by reductions in other areas in the budget, including a $50,000, or 43 percent, reduction in the school allowance fund. The fund, which pays for tuition for officers who are enrolled in law enforcement courses at college, would drop to $65,000.

Edson said last year a lot of officers stated a desire to take courses, and the department had to account for the fact that they all might actually go. However, some of the officers who said they wanted to take courses didn’t end up taking classes, he said.

“This year we are looking at the people who are actually making the effort to further their education,” Edson said.

The firearms budget would also be reduced by about $7,000, or 18 percent, to $31,471. The budget covers the cost of firearms and ammunition.

Edson said the department has some surplus ammunition and will buy ammunition for the upcoming fiscal year before the end of this fiscal year.

On the request of Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess the Board of Finance deferred voting on the police department’s budget request. Hess believes a few of the line items might be decreased.

Hess pointed out the department’s computer maintenance budget, which is proposed at $158,841, might be significantly decreased if the borough forms a planned information technologies department in the near future.