MARLBOROUGH – The City Council has begun to comb through budget requests for the 2024 fiscal year.
On May 15 and 16, the council’s Finance Committee held public hearings for each city department, including police and fire.
The Police Department’s request is for $9,018,253 – less than 1% over its 2023 fiscal year budget.
Chief David Giorgi told the committee of several transfers and cuts within the budget. For example, the crossing guard allocation of $17,480 has been transferred to the public safety account. He said that the crossing guards will be under the supervision of the school department; officers will still be at Jaworek Elementary School, since it’s a high-traffic area.
He added that the department decided to drop the lease for the substation at 85 Broad St. He told the committee the department couldn’t staff it adequately, and the facility was “run down.”
Some of the largest increases include overtime (from $300,000 to $330,000) and in sick leave buy back (from $173,530 to $225,000).
Several committee members asked about staffing levels. Giorgi said the department has had a “resurgence of youth,” with nine new officers and “two openings we’re hoping to fill.”
On the Fire Department side, the request for fiscal 2024 comes to $9,638,909, or about 7.97% over fiscal 2023.
Chief Kevin J. Breen told the committee that the bulk of the increases comes from a new three-year contract.
Breen said the department responded to 9,075 emergency incidents last year. To help with emergency calls, the department has introduced a new, smaller squad to respond to emergencies.
The squad also comes equipped with a brush unit to deal with fires.
Breen said the department is down two firefighters, but it is actively recruiting and hiring.
As far as equipment is concerned, Breen said the department is waiting on a new ladder truck to replace a 24-year-old vehicle. The new truck, which costs $1.7 million, is scheduled to be delivered this September.
Overall, the proposed budget recommended by the mayor’s office totals $188,751,024, or about a 4.57% increase over the 2023 fiscal year budget.
During the budget hearings, the Finance Committee voted to trim about $940,000, including $300,000 in overtime for the Fire Department.
That brings the budget to $187,810,924, with more adjustments on the horizon.
The Finance Committee approved several measures during its May 25, meeting, including a salary adjustment for the assistant town clerk. These measures will be brought before the full council on Monday, June 5.