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Rindge

Part-time police budget trimmed

  • The Rindge Select Board held a public hearing on the proposed 12-month budget Wednesday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • The Rindge Select Board held a public hearing on the proposed 12-month budget Wednesday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • The Rindge Select Board held a public hearing on the proposed 12-month budget Wednesday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • The Rindge Select Board held a public hearing on the proposed 12-month budget Wednesday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • The Rindge Select Board held a public hearing on the proposed 12-month budget Wednesday night.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — The Select Board cut the Police Department’s proposed 2013 part-time budget by $3,000 at Wednesday night’s public hearing, and agreed to add nearly $1,500 in part-time wages for the town office.

The selectmen unanimously agreed to the changes despite concern from the Police Department about how the reduction in part-time wages for officers could result in increased overtime expenses this year.

Town Administrator Carlotta Lilback Pini had proposed cutting $11,000 — approximately half of the Police Department’s proposed part-time budget of $21,000 — earlier this month after assessing past years’ trends. She maintained that the department, now fully staffed, should be able to operate with fewer part-time hours.

But Sgt. Dan Anair, who spoke on behalf of Chief Frank Morrill on Wednesday, said more employees now have a higher longevity as employees of the town, meaning that they have more vacation afforded to them annually.

Because of Rindge’s population, which includes Franklin Pierce University, Anair said 24/7 coverage is essential. While smaller towns in the Mondanock region like Dublin can ask N.H. State Police to be on call when local officers aren’t on duty, Anair said Rindge doesn’t have that option.

“If you look at a five-year average, what we are asking for was within the five-year average,” Anair said, explaining that the Police Department’s request of $21,000 is reasonable.

Select Board member Roberta Oeser agreed with Anair that a major cut to the Police Department’s part-time budget would be a slippery slope. “If we can cover more hours with part-time [officers], it’s cheaper,” she said, explaining that overtime costs would be far too great.

Budget Advisory Committee Chair Tom Coneys said Morrill showed a willingness to work with some reduction in part-time and overtime wages at the Select Board meeting on May 8, but added that an $11,000 cut to the part-time budget is too much.

At the May 8 meeting, Morrill agreed to reduce his part-time budget by $1,000 to $20,000 and his overtime budget from $52,000 to $50,000. He could not be reached for comment by press time Monday about the Select Board’s decision.

Coneys said, “I would recommend putting a few thousand back [into the Police Department’s part-time budget] and finding that money somewhere else.”

In response, Oeser said she was having difficulty supporting Pini’s request for an additional $7,984 in part-time wages for the Town Office.

After losing administrative assistant Linda Stonehill in March, the Select Board has since hired Rindge native Nicole Sesia for a full-time, 32-hour per week position as Executive Secretary to the Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen. Sesia has also served as Deputy Town Clerk and will continue to do so when the Town Clerk is on vacation.

As a result of filling that position, Oeser said she didn’t understand why the part-time budget for the Town Office had increased.

Pini explained that when Sesia is fulfilling her role as deputy town clerk she may need someone else to come in to work in Sesia’s place as executive secretary when the town office is busy.

But Oeser said the benefit of hiring Sesia is that she can fill both hats and, in turn, save the town from hiring an additional employee.

Ultimately, the Select Board cut Pini’s request of $7,984 for additional part-time wages by $6,500.

The changes mean that voters will now weigh in on a proposed operating budget of $3,707,000 at an unscheduled deliberative session in the months ahead.

Rindge continues to be without a budget, following voters’ decision in March to rescind a 2012 vote at the polls that would have changed the town’s fiscal year with a one-time 18-month budget. Rindge has since petitioned the Cheshire County Superior Court to hold a Special Town Meeting, in order to implement a 12-month budget that starts Jan. 1 and ends Dec. 31.

About a week and a half ago, the town received notice of an evidentiary hearing at the Superior Court on June 3 to take up the matter.

Also at Wednesday’s Select Board meeting, Fire Chief Rick Donovan shared with the town news that the Fire Department had recently received a $126,170 grant for new self-contained breathing apparatuses, which cost approximately $5,700 each.

The total cost of 24 apparatuses is $147,049, with most of the cost paid for through the grant and less than $30,000 from the Fire Department Equipment Capital Reserve Fund.

Voters had approved the withdrawal of $70,000 from the fund in March for purchase of the apparatuses, but that money will no longer be raised through taxation in 2013, Donovan said.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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