WALLINGFORD — Fire and police officials are defending their budget proposals for next year, saying during a recent budget workshop that the requests are needed to keep up with demands for service.
Thursday’s budget workshop allowed Town Council members the chance to question departments about Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.’s budget proposal. Chairman Vincent Cervoni and Councilors Christopher Shortell, Gina Morgenstein and Jason Zandri were present.
The workshops will continue into next month as the council examine’s Dickinson’s $169 million budget proposal.
Police Chief William Wright is seeking funding for two new officers. Overall, Dickinson has proposed a $6.1 million police budget.
"We're spending a lot of time on different calls,” Wright said, “and the request for labor … we believe allows us to keep up with this increase in call volume."
Heidgerd said he couldn’t talk too much about the fire department salaries budget, since contract negotiations are ongoing, but the budget contains no contractual raises.
The largest capital purchase is $800,000 for a new fire truck, which Dickinson proposed funding through the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority Distribution Fund. When CRRA dissolved, the town received money that was used to establish a fund for capital projects.
Dickinson also proposed another $300,000 for capital purchases through the budget and a total of $8.3 million in funding for the department.
Both Morgenstein and Cervoni asked about the decision to take Rescue 3 off the road temporarily earlier this year due to a budget shortfall.
Heidgerd said that although shift strength and call volume are hard to predict, he does not anticipate the same issue next year with Rescue 3, a dual response medical and fire vehicle.
Heidgerd said 80 percent of fire department calls are medical.
The councilors had no questions for the fire marshal or civil preparedness office.
The council can make amendments to Dickinson's budget before voting to adopt a 2019-20 budget, scheduled for May 14. If the council does not adopt an amended budget, the mayor's proposal will go into effect automatically.
Upcoming workshops are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall council chambers.
Tuesday: Animal Control, Health
Thursday: Board of Education, Cafeteria, Youth & Social Services, Parks & Recreation
May 2: Economic Development Commission, Registrar of Voters, Wallingford Center Inc., Senior Center, Historic Program Match, Center Street Cemetery, Public Celebrations, Columbus House, Wallingford 2020 and the Spanish Community of Wallingford.