Rindge proposes ninth police officer position in 2021 budget

  • The Rindge Police Department hopes taxpayers will fund a ninth officer. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/18/2021 5:12:53 PM

The Rindge Police Department is requesting funds for an additional police officer position on this year’s warrant.

On Wednesday, the Rindge Select Board finalized the town warrant during a public hearing on the budget, eventually coming to a compromise budget that falls between the request of the town’s department heads and the recommendation of the Budget Advisory Committee.

The board ultimately finalized the budget at $4.5 million exactly, which is slightly more than the $4.48 million recommended by the Budget Advisory Committee, but less than the $4.63 million requested by department leaders.

The Budget Advisory Committee based its budget recommendation on last year’s budget plus three percent. It did not take into account the $183,000 first-time bond payment for the town’s upgraded fiber internet service, which is to be paid back through service fees, not taxes.

The Select Board identified several points to remove from the budget, including removing $43,000 from the Highway Department’s paving budget, and $57,000 for a ninth police officer position, though the board agreed to put the police position in a separate warrant article for town approval. The $57,000 covers both salary and benefits, but only for about three quarters of the year, as hiring wouldn’t happen until after March Town Meeting.

Selectwoman Roberta Oeser said it was important for the budget to be as close as possible to the default budget, and should be no more than a $100,000 difference.

The default budget, which is last year’s budget, plus increases required by law, such as incurred debt or employee contracts, is set at $4,426,029.

One of the biggest back-and-forth points was whether the town should request funds for a new police officer position in the town budget or by a separate warrant article. Both the Select Board and members of the Budget Advisory Committee said they were in favor of adding an additional officer.

Police Chief Dan Anair, who attended the public hearing via Zoom, said in the past, expanding the force has been put forth as a separate warrant article, and he didn’t have any objections to it being done that way again. He said the department “desperately needs” another officer.

Phil Motta, of the Budget Advisory Committee, said the committee had initially included the new staff member in the operating budget.

“I wanted it in the budget because I didn’t like rolling the dice on a warrant article,” Motta said. However, he said if Anair didn’t have any objection, he would support using a separate warrant article to pay for the position.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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