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Canton selectmen mull $475,000 in department budget requests

Posted by Dave Eisenstadter  February 5, 2013 10:51 PM

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Canton selectmen on Tuesday heard preliminary budget requests from several department heads seeking increases for fiscal 2014.

The base budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, is $16,197,742, an increase of 1.2 percent from the current fiscal year. Department heads have requested $476,629 above the base budget, with the largest share -- $189,169 – from the Canton Police Department.

Police Chief Kenneth Berkowitz told selectmen he was hoping to restore a formerly cut sergeant position to the police force at a cost of $67,000.

“We don’t want to bring him or her back just to be a patrol supervisor; we’re looking to increase the school safety and security program and increase the school resource officer program,” Berkowitz said Tuesday.

Students at risk for destructive behaviors are often not identified until high school, and the department has to catch up offering services, Berkowitz said.

He added that early identification could reduce the demand for drugs. Police responded to a fatal overdose of a 19-year-old recently, he said.

“We’re trying to redouble our efforts arresting people, but as soon as we arrest one person, there are 10 other people waiting to bring drugs into our community,” Berkowitz said.

Other Police Department requests included $49,000 for shift overtime, $25,000 for patrolmen salary increases, and $25,000 for department stipends.

Fire Chief Charles Doody will come to speak with selectmen next Tuesday about his requested increase of $71,412 over the base budget, mainly for overtime and software maintenance.

After the police and fire requests, the next highest at $61,423 came from the Canton Public Library. Library Director Mark Lague presented numbers to selectmen showing that Canton’s library is not as well staffed as other similar libraries.

He asked for a full-time assistant library director at $44,000, along with another $11,000 for books and $3,000 for temporary help.

The new library building has increased circulation and visits, but staffing levels have not increased, Lague said.

Selectmen will make a recommendation regarding the requests at their next meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

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