LISBON — Councilors voted 4-3 Tuesday night to include the cost of a full-time police officer in the 2018-19 municipal budget.
Allen Ward, Chris Brunelle, Norman Albert and Fern Larochelle voted in favor; Mark Lunt, Kris Crawford and Kasie Kolbe were opposed.
“I hate to vote against something like that,” Crawford said, “but there’s a lot of staffing issues throughout different departments. I’d love to get everybody up to where they need to be, but there’s already an increase to taxes.”
As of May 8, the initial budget recommended by the town manager was $9.66 million.
“Right now, the total budget is up $887,907, and that doesn’t include taking out the debt service if (councilors) wants to pay off next year’s debt through unassigned fund balance,” Town Manager Diane Barnes said.
The Police Department budget, which was OK’d by councilors May 8, includes an additional patrol officer, bringing the force to 13 full-time officers.
Police Chief Marc Hagan expressed concern at the May 8 meeting that the town was still not meeting staffing recommendations that call for 14 full-time officers.
The vote Tuesday brings the total to 14.
The vote adds $81,000 to the Police Department budget, which includes salaries and benefits for the officer.
“From a public safety perspective, it’s risk management,” Councilor Albert said. “Right now, we are running below what the study we paid for says (of having 14 full-time police officers). It’s not easy, but we have to make a call and it’s a public safety piece.”
Councilors on Tuesday also adopted the school budget of $16.4 million. Voters will have the final say on the spending plan when they head to the polls Tuesday, June 12.
In other matters, councilors approved an off-premise catering permit to Cook’s Lobster & Ale House to operate a beer garden at MTM Center during Moxie Festival’s Concert in the Park on July 14. The beer garden will be on Campus Street.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 5 at the Town Office.