Fire Chief Richard Felner and Police Chief Gary MacNamara asked for little to no funding increases for the next year as they pitched their budgets to Fairfields leaders Tuesday night.
On the Fire Departments side, Felners budget plan for 2012-13 would cost about $234,000 more than in 2011-12, or a 1.7 percent increase. Most of that would go toward higher salaries for the towns firefighters, as ordered by the unions recently approved contract . Each firefighter will get a 2.75 percent pay raise under that deal.
The only other major expense for the Fire Department would be a pair of new vehicles, a sedan for staff use and an outfitted SUV for responding to calls. Combined, the two new cars would cost the town about $111,000.
The Board of Finance asked Felner about the departments current staffing model, specifically about the use of overtime to cover vacant staff positions. Fairfield has four vacant firefighter slots. It currently pays existing staffers overtime to fill those needs. Felner said Tuesday that saves the town the money of training and paying salary and benefits for new full-time firefighters.
All of that really adds up, Felner said. Right now, its cheaper to keep the vacancy.
As for the police, MacNamaras 2012-13 budget would actually cost the town a few thousand dollars less than the current year. He explained that after looking at the police department actually spending over the last few years, he was able to ask for less money.
This budget is basically a zero percent increase from last year, MacNamara said. But we certainly remain confident we can continue our high level of service to the community in there stressed economic times.
The police are also asking for a new group of vehicles next year. MacNamaras plan calls for 10 new patrol cars to phase out older models running high on miles. Fairfield usually rotates out a full dozen each year, but in 2012-13 MacNamara decided to trim the amount because of a change in the fleet.
The police-standard Ford Crown Victoria is no longer in production. MacNamara said hes not sure what model will replace them in Fairfields fleet, but he wanted to order fewer cars as a trial before switching over to a new model.
The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance will continue to hold budget hearings throughout March. Residents who want to voice their opinions on the towns spending can attend any meeting. On March 24, there will be a special public hearing to hear all citizens concerns. Both boards will then make their final budget vote in the last week of the month.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.