Borough police chief requests $7.18M budget

NAUGATUCK — Police Chief Steven Hunt last week presented a budget request to the Board of Finance that would increase spending for the Naugatuck Police Department by about 2%.

Hunt requested a roughly $7.18 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which is an increase of $150,677 over this year’s budget, during a Feb. 3 budget workshop.

The majority of the increase comes from contractual salary increases. The department’s payroll is increasing by $144,842, or about 2.47%, to nearly $5.85 million, under the budget proposal.

The budget proposal for overtime is $650,000, which is the same as this fiscal year’s budget.

The police department has already spent $419,980 in overtime this fiscal year, but Hunt said that is due to six vacant officer positions. He expects six recruits to graduate training by June and fill those vacancies.

“Our overtime budget is quite high at this time of the year and that’s because we have six vacancies,” Hunt said. “We’re confident that once the summer comes and we have them out on the road and get them through field training, next year will be a better picture.”

The budget request also includes an additional $6,194 for training to cover a $1,800 increase in what the state charges to train a recruit. As of July 1, it will cost $3,800 to send an officer through training, Hunt said.

Hunt also requested $4,500 to pay for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, program. The department brought back the program, which is a drug prevention program run in schools, this school year. The department paid for it this year with assets seized and forfeited in drug-related arrests.

“Other than contractual increases, we’ve really tried to hold the line while adding several new initiatives. Two of the initiatives that I’ve really spoke about is the DARE program that we brought back and the narcotics detection K-9,” Hunt said. “Unfortunately, Naugatuck is not immune to the opioid problem that is facing this country. With Mayor (N. Warren ‘Pete’) Hess’ support, we’re trying to do all we can to combat that.”

Finance board chairman Dan Sheridan felt the budget request minimizes the cost to taxpayers while serving the needs to the community and providing extra emphasis on resolving the opioid problem.

The budget workshop was part of a series of meetings the finance board will hold as it crafts an overall budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.