A closer look at the Wallingford mayor’s budget proposals for three key departments

A closer look at the Wallingford mayor’s budget proposals for three key departments



reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — The town Finance Department released Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.'s proposed 2019-20 budget in greater detail Thursday, after the mayor issued a summary Monday.

Here’s a look at three departments which account for $25 million, nearly 15 percent, of the $169 million proposed budget.

Police

The police department’s total request was $6,638,865 and Dickinson funded $6,185,697, a difference of nearly 7 percent.

The biggest item is funding for two new officers, a total increase in salaries of $297,083, or 3.3 percent.

The public’s concern about car prowling was a factor, but not the entire reason.

“This discussion of adding staffing has been a conversation that the mayor and I have had for the past few years,” Police Chief William Wright said Thursday, “but I think those incidents are illustrative of our desire to add assistance, to add help.”

Wright requested $175,000 to buy four new Ford SUV cruisers to replace four older vehicles. Dickinson’s proposed amount is $140,000, a 20 percent reduction from that request.

The funds cover the vehicle purchase and the upfitting, which involves taking the gear — emergency lights, cage, center console — out of one cruiser and moving it to another.

Wright said that Ford recently informed their law enforcement customers of “a significant model upgrade next year.”

“Most times when they do that, it renders a lot of our gear incompatible,” he said.

He added that he’s hopeful some of the manufacturers of the upfit gear will create ways to modify existing gear to fit in a redesigned vehicle.

“It can impact the (2020-21) budget, knowing that I might need to purchase more after-market gear,” he said.

Dickinson did not include $11,000 requested for new ballistic shields.

Wright hopes to fund that purchase out of the current fiscal year’s budget through a town bid process.

Fire

The fire department’s total request was $9,266,561 and Dickinson funded $8,291,561, a difference of 10.5 percent.

Fire Chief Richard Heidgerd requested nearly $1.3 million in new capital items, and Dickinson funded almost $300,000 through the fire department budget, just 23 percent.

However, capital projects funding increased overall, from $245,396 in the current year to $298,673 in the proposed budget.

Two-thirds of that $1.3 million request, $800,000, was to purchase a new quint-style ladder truck to replace Truck 2, which is slated to be taken out of service.

Dickinson funded the request through the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority Distribution Fund instead of the department budget.

Truck 2, a vehicle from 1995, is a spare aerial ladder truck. The new apparatus will have an aerial device and a pump.

“It gives a little more flexibility in responding,” Heidgerd said.

Heidgerd said Thursday it will be a year after the budget is approved before the department would acquire the vehicle.

Items that received less funding than requested include extraction equipment and turnout gear, a combined $50,000 less than requested.

Heidgerd said the extraction equipment is to replace old equipment from Truck 2.

“As the truck is so old, so is that equipment,” he said, adding that he’s looking for other ways to fund the purchase.

Heidgerd said the request for turnout gear “was to do some catch-up.”

“We needed to buy more than our normal budget would allow for,” he said. “We’ll use that money to buy as much gear as we can.”

A replacement for Medic D, a medic unit, at $125,000 was not funded. It would have been the first year of a purchase spread out over two years.

Heidgerd said he’s planning to request the full amount, $250,000, on his budget request for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Public Works

The Public Works department’s total request was $6,638,865 and Dickinson funded $6,185,697, a difference of nearly 7 percent.

Dickinson funded a new one-ton dump truck at $60,000, the full requested amount. Dickinson partially funded new diesel D trucks with plows and sanders at $90,000 out of $180,000 requested, and half-ton pickup trucks at $50,000 out of $100,000.

A Class 8 truck with dump and plow at $200,000 was funded through CRRA.

Grand Street Park improvements at $113,168 were funded using the capital nonrecurring fund.

Public Works Director Henry McCully was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Next steps

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at Town Hall council chambers. 

The Town Council’s hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 25 at Town Hall council chambers.

The council can make amendments to Dickinson's budget before voting to adopt a 2019-20 budget in May. If the council does not adopt an amended budget, the mayor's proposal will go into effect automatically.

LTakores@record-journal.com
203-317-2212
Twitter: @LCTakores


First look at Wallingford's budget
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