flag image

Police get approval to hire two officers

Will also get cruisers

The police department has been approved to purchase a pair of cruisers. File photo. (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — After Town Manager Chris Clark assuaged some budget concerns, a Town Council subcommittee unanimously recommended approval of hiring two police officers, buying two cruisers and making five people auxiliary officers.

"Can we hire two officers and buy two cruisers without raising taxes?" asked Councilor Conrad Vandal.

Clark's response was simple: "It's all included in the budget."

He said the fiscal issue stems from two things — an increase in School Choice-out costs and the fact selling town property is taking a while. Combined, he said, those create a roughly $250,000 deficit, but won't really be a problem until December.

To address them, he said he already has the first two buildings ready to be re-bid and a previous potential buyer expressing interest in one of them again. If either of them sells, it will easily raise the $125,000 he planned in this year's budget. Regarding School Choice, he added the extra cost is already covered by savings caused by reductions in borrowing costs, including the fact that bonds for an access road went out later than expected.

Clark said he plans to describe them in some detail at next week's Council meeting.

To Chairman Laurent "Butch" McDonald, that information was crucial. He said he was concerned what effect two hires and two police cars would have going forward and later noted state law requires property sale income to be used only for certain things; deposit into the general fund to cover such costs isn't one of them. (Clark plans to pay school project bonds with sale money, which is legal, McDonald added.)

Clark noted the issue isn't too serious this year, but there's "a lot of uncertainty for 2012." State revenues are coming in slightly higher than anticipated, so state aid is fairly stable now, but there's no telling what will happen next year.

Responding to that concern, Police Chief Daniel Charette said, "We waited literally to the last minute" to choose two applicants, aiming to hire someone with experience (and thus save the cost of the Police Academy) while saving a little money in salaries by using two full-timers who were just starting the academy this month.

He proposed, and the subcommittee accepted, two Southbridge residents for the jobs — Evan Genko and Robert Shelby. One of them has four years' experience, including gang work, while the other is 911-certified and could go straight into dispatch work until an opening comes at the academy, Charette said.

With them, he said, the force can schedule "shifts with an extra half a person [in case people get sick]. Without them, it's overtime, overtime."

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

Stonebridge Press
inclusion image
inclusion image
Thanks for visiting Stonebridge Press and Villager Newspapers