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May 20. 2013 10:19PM

Overtime puts stress on Nashua police budget

NASHUA — As city officials reviewed the police department’s proposed budget of $25.5 million on Monday, concerns of a possible financial shortfall in the police budget for the current fiscal year were brought to light.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said her administration has been in communication with the police department regarding concerns about whether there is enough money in the payroll account to cover some of the costs in the current 2013 budget, which will conclude at the end of June. A similar scenario took place last spring, which forced police officials to temporarily remove two school resource officers to alleviate some funding woes and get the department out of the red.

“We think we have a solution to that,” the mayor said. She said about $33,000 in contingency funds is being sought to alleviate some of the worries. However, Lozeau acknowledged that price tag may need to go up slightly.

Karen Smith, business manager for the police department, said there were some unforeseen financial impacts, including the extensive overtime required when the Nashua Police Department’s Special Reaction Team and Hazardous Device Unit was deployed to Watertown, Mass., for the search of one of the Boston, Mass., bombing suspects last month.

Police Chief John Seusing said the department does not typically charge another department when it assists, however, the chief said he believes that in this instance, some overtime costs may be eligible for reimbursement. According to Seusing, about $15,000 in overtime wages were issued when 35 to 40 officers were sent to Watertown on April 19 to search individual homes for the remaining bombing suspect.

In reviewing budget numbers for the current budget and the 2014 fiscal year budget, Smith said she is crunching the numbers but will not know specifics until closer to the end of June.

“I need to find out where I am. It is just a little too early right now,” said Smith, who added that the payroll account is now being used to pay for the overtime account. The current budget is balanced right now at about 85 percent, but she stressed there are no longer savings available to help with the finances.

The recommended 2014 police budget of $25,575,724 includes employee benefits and fuel. Last year’s police budget of $17,670,299 did not include benefits or fuel, which accounts for a combined $7.3 million.

khoughton@newstote.com


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