Police, Fire and Highway Budgets Reviewed by Select Board | Local news

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BENNINGTON – Police Chief Paul Doucette joined other city department heads on Monday to highlight some key aspects of their draft 2023 spending plans during the first review session of the budget before the select committee.

Doucette said the department wanted to continue adding energy-efficient hybrids where possible, saying he estimated the department averaged 5.5 to 6 more miles per gallon of gasoline with hybrid SUVs. previously purchased.

“We’re very excited about this and we haven’t had any issues with these,” he said.

The chief is proposing the replacement of two other police vehicles with hybrid vehicles, at an estimated cost of $ 52,750.

The ministry is also looking for two Honda all-terrain vehicles, at a total cost of $ 16,400, Doucette said.

These would be used to respond to ATV complaints, assist firefighters or other emergencies, and work at community events or other patrol duties.

He said officers using ATVs would participate in a state training program.

POLICE OVERTIME

Doucette said he was concerned about his ability to cover officers’ overtime costs for the next fiscal year, starting July 1.

He said he had proposed a 12% increase in overtime to provide police coverage of shifts and tasks until new officers currently at the Vermont Police Academy are available to work. He said it would likely be January 2023, unless a previously certified agent applies for one of the three current BPD agent positions.

Doucette said he was asking about $ 21,000 more than the 9 percent increase already in the overtime budget as submitted by CEO Stuart Hurd to the board.

“I want to make sure the money is there if it needs it,” the chef said.

Total police wages and salaries rose only 1.67 percent, Hurd said.

TRAINING, CAMERAS

The department’s body cameras and vehicle cameras “need to be updated,” said Doucette, referring to his proposal of $ 41,010 for a lease / purchase agreement that will allow for the free replacement of aging camera equipment afterwards. three years.

The total cost of the five-year agreement would be $ 175,300.

The equipment requires an update on average every three years, he said. Currently, batteries sometimes do not last for an agent’s entire shift.

Regarding officer training, Doucette said, “We have a lot to do. “

He said this included an FBI leadership training course that he and Lt. Camillo Grande attended, as well as training for other officers in senior positions.

In addition, there is budget training for police officers related to community relations and public relations.

During a discussion of the ongoing community policing efforts in Bennington, Doucette said he had started using the term ‘community-engaged policing’, which he said he believed the BPD was doing.

“I believe we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

HIGHWAY BUDGET

Department of Public Works director RJ Joly pleaded Monday for adding a maintenance mechanic to the department to do work that is now done by local dealerships or other auto-related companies.

The request, which he proposed unsuccessfully in previous budget sessions, would benefit the department by saving on maintenance costs and ensuring better coordination of this work involving 23 pieces of heavy equipment, 14 larger trucks and 38 smaller trucks or other vehicles, including police vehicles. , says Joly.

The employee would perform routine maintenance, excluding major engine repairs or the like, he said, and follow the scheduled maintenance for each vehicle and order oil, grease and oil. ‘other supplies as needed.

In addition, Joly said, the department has a used oil building heater where oil from oil changes could be used, rather than having it collected by auto maintenance companies.

Hurd said during discussions with Joly they were “unable to determine the cost” of hiring a mechanic and the savings from using fewer outside vendors.

The director said he would continue to review the proposal before the next fiscal year and try to develop a plan for a new employee who could work within the existing department’s budget – using funds that are now going to suppliers.

CHANGE OF RULE

Joly also asked for new employees for the road manpower team, saying the work schedule has become “increasingly busy” as the department has taken a bigger role in street work. and the replacement of sidewalks in recent years – as opposed to those jobs. still up for auction.

“We do a lot of things and very efficiently,” he said.

The department “has become more of a construction crew, more than just a maintenance crew,” said Hurd.

Recent projects that the ministry has contributed or addressed on its own include sidewalk and street work over the past year; extensions of municipal water pipes to combat PFOA contamination of hundreds of private wells in the city; and replacement of lead water lines between main lines and individual properties.

“We have not budgeted [additional laborers]Hurd said of the spending plan he submitted, adding that the main reason was the sharp increase in the cost of materials required by DPW and other municipal services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joly said he understood the budget cuts, but feared “my people could start leaving” without further help.

He added: “There is no more downtime” between seasons, when the department could prepare for its various tasks over the next few months.

FIREFIGHTERS

Doucette, as City Manager of Public Safety, and Fire Chief James Wright discussed the Bennington Fire Department’s budget with members of the board of directors.

The department’s budget is up about 16%, Doucette said, but the main reason is that the city will start paying next fiscal year for a new ladder truck that was previously approved by voters.

Due to delays related to the pandemic, such as parts needed for vehicles, delivery has been delayed, Doucette said, and is now expected in February or March.

Other items proposed for the fire department include replacing eight Motorola radios at a cost of $ 19,220 and $ 50,000 to install heat pumps for the public meeting space on the third floor of the fire hall. by Bennington.

The board of directors is required to notify the budget of a vote by the municipal assembly at its meeting on January 24. The town’s annual meeting is set for February 28, and polling and elections are scheduled for March 1.


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