NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 18, 2013

Police cuts expected with budget vote tonight

(Continued)

The fire department, city clerk and the Amesbury Public Library were among those agencies whose budgets were approved without cuts. And while the school department’s fiscal 2014 budget is set to see a bump as well, it won’t increase as much as school officials had hoped, leading to tough choices in the months to come. Another department faced with budget cuts is Community and Economic Development.

Yesterday, Kezer said the police department’s budget hike reflects the switch over to a regional dispatch center in Middleton starting this summer. That means the department will have to absorb $155,277 to fill four and-a-half positions to watch over prisoners and to fulfill walk-in duties at the School Street station. Previously, the four full-time and one part-time positions were covered under a separate line item called public safety communications. Kezer is estimating the switch to a regional dispatch center will save the city $238,125 in fiscal 2014 alone, covering much of the proposed budget increase.

Should the police department’s budget cut become official, Gagnon said it will force cuts in a department that is already lean.

“We’re pretty much trying to keep things like they were last year,” Gagnon said, adding one item off the table will be job cuts.

Gagnon, whose last day in the department was last week, has been part of budget process since the beginning, attending Finance Committee meetings and is expected to be inside City Hall tonight when the council makes its final vote.

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