Hayden police budget remains trim | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden police budget remains trim

Town Council could evaluate increase for summer

Jack Weinstein

— Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch requested Thursday night that his fifth full-time officer be reinstated in 2010.

Birch gave his presentation during the second of two budget workshops the town has held with the Hayden Town Council to address the proposed $2.1 million 2010 general fund, which is its operational fund.

It dealt with budgets for departments including police, administration, planning and building. The first budget workshop was Oct. 22 and covered the streets department, parks and recreation, and water and sewer.

Birch said the presentation allowed him and his four full-time and three part-time officers, who also attended the workshop, to educate the board about the issues they face daily. And it allowed Birch to show board members the need for the fifth officer and how the department would use the additional resource, he said.

The Hayden Police Department has enough funding in its $525,000 proposed 2010 budget for a part-time officer to work about a shift per week with the remaining two working to fill in or when shifts are available. The fifth officer would cost the town more than $75,000 next year, including benefits, Birch said.

Town Council member Chuck Grobe said everyone had to cut back in difficult times. He wanted to hear what level of service the department could offer with its current budget, which wasn’t part of Birch’s presentation.

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Birch said the town provides 20 hours of police service a day. His proposal to add a fifth officer would provide two on-duty officers every night except Monday.

Grobe said the department might have to get by on what’s budgeted because no one knew whether the economy would get worse before it gets better. Grobe said he understood the need to provide adequate police service and for the officers to get time off. In brief presentations to the board, officers said that was difficult.

“We have to think outside the box when we’re in a pickle,” he said. “We can’t do what we’ve always done.”

Grobe acknowledged that the level of service Hayden residents have come to expect might change with officers not being able to respond to a “barking dog” or other calls. Or there may be times when an officer is only on call, which Birch said was a possibility.

“I would like to remind you this is a position we’ve had in the past,” Birch said. “I just want it reinstated.”

Council members Tom Rogalski, Tim Redmond and Richard “Festus” Hagins – Bill Hayden and Jim Haskins weren’t present – agreed that they’d like to see what the Police Department service levels and schedules would look like with the current budget.

“I just don’t see it coming in 2010 today,” Mayor Lorraine Johnson said about the fifth officer. “In April or June, it may be something we can revisit. If we can give (the department) a little more help to ease the situation until we see what 2010 looks like, I think that will help.”

Grobe suggested not committing any additional funds to the department yet. Council members asked Birch to present information about how the department would function with its current budget at next week’s meeting.

Also at Thursday night’s budget workshop, Town Manager Russ Martin presented council members the administration’s budget, which included the addition of a part-time staff member in its proposed $287,000 budget. Martin said that person could be hired if construction picked up, resulting in the need to keep Town Hall open all day. Town Hall now is closed for lunch Monday through Thursday and after noon Fridays.

Before Birch’s presentation, Martin said this year’s sales tax revenue still was projected to come in $20,000 more than the $810,000 estimate.

He said the 2010 sales tax projection was 10 percent lower than this year’s revised estimate.

Martin said the first reading for the proposed 2010 budget is scheduled for the Nov. 19 meeting.

He said council members could still suggest changes at that time.