Borough begins budget deliberations

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Naugatuck Fire Chief Ken Hanks and Deputy Chief Ellen Murray, seated at the head of the table, present the fire department’s 2013-14 budget proposal to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses Monday night. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck Fire Chief Ken Hanks and Deputy Chief Ellen Murray, seated at the head of the table, present the fire department’s 2013-14 budget proposal to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses Monday night. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Budget season began in the borough Monday night as the police and fire departments presented their budget proposals to the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses.

The police department presented a budget of $6,657,919, an increase of $585,961 over this year’s budget. The largest increase came in the regular payroll line item, which was increased by more than $427,000. That increase includes a full-time school resource officer for City Hill Middle School.

“It’s important to have a security presence in that school,” Police Chief Christopher Edson said.

Edson said the officer posted at the school would be able to provide crime prevention services as well as respond to the increasing number of complaints that have been occurring at that school.

“The officer could act as a mentor for some of the more troubled youth in that school,” Edson said.

Edson said that the officer would work a Monday through Friday shift, and when the school was not in session, the officer would work as a regular patrol officer.

Edson said that the middle school generates enough activity that the department felt a school resource officer would be beneficial there.

“If we can get these kids a little earlier than high school I think it will solve some problems,” Edson said.

The department is also seeking funding for a second sergeant for the third shift. First shift and second shift both have two sergeants currently.

Edson said he felt having two sergeants on staff was beneficial to the department so that one could be on the road and the other could be in the building.

The other increase in the payroll came from contractually obligated union pay raises.

The clothing allowance line item went up by $29,000 because each officer’s clothing allowance increased by $500 under union contract.

The firearms line item increased by more than $21,000 due to a recommendation from an audit that the officers undergo firearms training twice a year rather than once a year, which is the current practice. This extra training would make the borough less liable in case of an accident.

The fire department presented a budget of $4,296,981, an increase of $619,516.

The largest increases came from the regular payroll, overtime, in-house training, and employee retirement line items, totaling $598,790.

A lot of these increases had to do with the fact that, due to contract negotiations, firefighters retired early. The department had not budgeted for the retirements or the training of the new hires in the current year’s budget.

The other increase in the payroll line item came from the addition of a fire marshal position.

Fire Chief Ken Hanks said that previously the fire chiefs had stepped into the role as fire marshal for a stipend of $5,000. Hanks said he has no interest in that position and currently the assistant fire marshal is acting as the fire marshal.

The other largest increase in the budget was in the clothing allowance line item, which included a requested increase of $27,150 due to union increases.

The finance board began whittling down the requests late Monday night.

The board reduced the police department’s request by $144,686, including over $132,000 from the department’s requested payroll budget, according to information Mayor Robert Mezzo posted on his blog.

Nearly $73,000 was reduced from the request Monday night, according to Mezzo, with $69,366 coming from the regular payroll line item.

The budget proposals remain preliminary figures as the borough continues with the process of crafting the 2013-14 budget. The next round of budget presentations will take place Monday beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Budgets scheduled to be discussed include the Whittemore Library, the senior center and downtown development.