The Public Safety Committee left the proposed police and fire department budgets untouched Tuesday.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend the full board approve both budgets as written. That means $3,740,307 for the fire department and $6,265,881 for the police department. In the case of the fire department, the approval was with the request that the treasurer’s office review and confirm some of the numbers in the insurance section and the salary line be adjusted to reflect any savings from recent retirements before the final budget meeting.
Fire Chief James Larsen said he had shifted money from the overtime line to the line for substitute firefighters because the department had gone from having three to seven qualified subs. He said he was looking for more in building repairs and maintenance to start replacing single-pane windows, which would save on heating costs in the long run, and more in the radio repair and maintenance fund.
“The radios we currently have, the portable radios, are not a public-safety spectrum radio,” he said, adding that they tend to stop working in the cold and will cost $5,000 to $6,000 each to replace. “We have a lot of them. We need to begin implementing some sort of program where we can begin replacing those radios.”
The uniform line was increased, he said, because they had deferred uniform replacements “to where they cannot be deferred any more,” and that expected new firefighters would have to be outfitted.
“A single firefighter dress uniform is somewhere around $1,100,” he said.
Beyond that, he said he wanted to start phasing out some of the “vintage” office equipment at the firehouse and to start modernizing the department’s information technology.
On the police budget, Alderman Scott Tommola noted that overtime in the current budget had been overspent to where it was “not even within the ballpark.”
“How do we rein that in a little bit?” he asked.
“By getting to full staffing,” Kilcullen replied. “We’re closer now than we’ve ever been. We have 38 with conditional offers that have been made that would get to the full 40.”
Alderman Thomas DePoy declared that he was “not going to touch” the police budget, recalling how last year the board reduced the overtime line in anticipation of the department being fully staffed.
A number of aldermen noted that both departments — and others around the city — were seeing significant savings in workers compensation premiums and expressed concern that those savings wouldn’t last.
“I doubt it’s going to go down any more than that,” DePoy said. “Insurance goes up.”