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September 26. 2013 9:21PM

Goffstown police, fire describe department needs

GOFFSTOWN — Department heads have been presenting their proposed 2014 budgets to selectmen.

In September, officials present their requests to selectmen. In October, selectmen develop their budget reflecting departmental proposals and, in November, present it to the Budget Committee. The Budget Committee then reviews the selectmen’s budget, requests information from department heads, and develops their budget to be presented at public hearings in January. All in anticipation of the March 2014 vote.

At their Sept. 23 meeting, selectmen heard separate presentations by Police Chief Patrick Sullivan and Fire Chief Richard O’Brien.

Sullivan is seeking a proposed budget for 2014 of $4,786,624, an increase of 3.37 percent over last year’s budget of $4,630,597.

Sullivan said an increase in calls for service, thefts, burglaries and vehicle break-ins have put a strain on the department. In 2010, calls for service totaled 9,838, compared to 10,856 in 2012.

“There are 20,000 calls projected for 2013, and that’s more than we’ve ever had,” Sullivan said.

He said robberies are his biggest concern, especially armed robberies.

Robbers are more getting more brazen, and are not just walking into the store and stealing from the clerk.

“They’re now letting customers into the store and robbing them,” he said, adding this could lead to a hostage situation.

He is requesting an additional full-time officer to replace one taken in 2008 because of budget constraints. According to a cited study, the department should have nine more officers to provide optimal service.

“I am not asking for nine additional officers, I am asking for one additional officer to restore our department to a manpower level we had in 2008. The restoration of this position will allow us to provide wider coverage and when vacations and sick days are taken, so that coverage does not go short, but is instead covered with adequate manpower,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan is also seeking capital improvements – replacing three vehicles, one sedan and two SUVs, for about $108,000 with police changeovers; an $83,000 allocation for a combination emergency operation and training room for 2015; and replacing aging HVAC units $26,201. He also presented future projects, including parking lot expansion for $102,173 in 2016, and a new police department building entry for $72,263 in 2019.

O’Brien is requesting a fire budget of $2,532,371, a 1.5 percent over the 2013 budget of $2,494,494; and $572,829 for emergency medical services, a 28 percent increase from last year’s $414,582 budget. He is also seeking $158,000 for an ambulance.

After presenting a line-by-line list, he said total fire operational costs have increased $34,440, while EMS costs have increased $158,247.

O’Brien is looking to replace a 1968 Jeep forestry truck for $130,000.

The new 250-gallon tank with a fire pump, foam delivery system and hose reels would be capable of year-round use. The old truck has safety, electrical and reliability issues and has had breakdowns during emergencies.

Also, he is asking for $575,000 for one new combination rescue/pumper to replace an engine and a squad vehicles that were purchased in 1994 and 1999 respectively.

He also wants to put $150,000 in an apparatus capital reserve fund, of which $75,000 was added in 2013. The reserves would be allocated for proposed future purchases, including a fire engine in 2019; two boats in 2016 and 2019; and an engine in 2023.

O’Brien also outlined a fire station improvement plan for $4,456,011 to be paid through a bond, loan, unreserved fund balance and grants.

He said a committee reviewed the buildings and viable solutions.

“All studies conclude that the stations are not suitable for today’s fire department,” O’Brien said.

The stations present safety and environmental issues, including cramped administration areas, energy efficiency, lack of storage, small apparatus openings, poor or no drainage capabilities, outdated electrical systems and no decontamination areas.
 
Other departments heads who have presented budgets include Parks and Recreation, which is requesting a 2014 proposed operating budget of $446,390, a 4.27 percent over last year’s $428,101 budget; the Goffstown Library’s request for $740,235, a 5.06 percent increase over $703,121 in 2013; and the Public Works Department with $5,335,377, a 3.92 percent increase over its 2013 budget of $5,133,990.
 
Town administrators will present their budget to selectmen on Monday.

To view the proposed budgets and presentations, visit www.goffstown.com, and click on 2014 Budget Information link.

sclark@newstote.com


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