PARIS — Interim Police Chief Jeff Lange has presented a budget for 2016-17 that is 17.8 percent less than this fiscal year, while warning that the full cost of hiring the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department’s services hasn’t been fully discussed.

Selectmen, administrators and the Budget committee are aiming to reduce this year’s municipal budget by $500,000, after residents called for tax relief. One suggestion was eliminating the Police Department and contracting with the Sheriff’s Office.

Lange’s proposal of $498,350 compares to $544,550 the town approved last year.

The 2016-17 spending plan includes laying off school resource officer Gino Valeriani and reducing health insurance and other benefits. The department would have seven full-time officers, four reserve officers and one administrative assistant and continue 24/7 coverage.

The Budget Committee took no action on the proposal at its meeting March 9, Chairman Bob Kirchherr said.

Valeriani is the least senior patrol officer and would be laid off because of the current union agreement, according to Lange. However, he would be offered a reserve officer position.

The department’s second in command, Patrol Sgt. Skip Mowatt, would remain patrol supervisor and return as Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s school resource officer, under Lange’s proposal.

The interim chief requested to promote Detective Rick Belanger to detective sergeant. He could assist in supervising and split the workload with Mowatt. The promotion would only be a title change and Belanger wouldn’t receive a raise, according to Lange.

Sheriff Wayne Gallant has submitted three proposals for police coverage. The newest has a lower price tag than the first and would cost the town $363,064 for the first year and $324,500 for the second. It includes three full-time deputies, detective services and cruisers.

In his budget proposal, Lange warned of costs that haven’t been fully discussed if the town voted to contract with the Sheriff’s Office.

“There will be a cost that has not been calculated as far as payouts for holidays, personal days, vacations, etc. per member and unemployment expenses for those individuals,” Lange wrote about his staff.

 “(There) are the possibilities of … being charged for police services from Norway and Oxford for those departments responding to the town of Paris when the Sheriff’s Office cannot respond in a timely fashion. This will ultimately come down to the administration personnel of those towns and how much they will charge, if any,” he wrote.

Lange showed the 2015 average response times for the number of calls for service for each category for Paris, Oxford and Norway police, along with the Sheriff’s Department.

“With the exception of one call of service listed below, the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office response times are far greater than the three agencies listed,” Lange wrote. The category was for suicide attempts, where the deputies had faster response times than Paris and Norway police, but not Oxford.

“Compared to the Sheriff’s Office proposal, the deputies do not have any vested interest into the town of Paris as far as quality of life complaints and other crimes, the response times to a call will greatly increase in time if they can get a hold of a deputy in the middle of the night to wake up, get dressed and respond from parts unknown,” Lange wrote. “Waiting for an officer to respond the next day for a loitering call, graffiti call, property damage call, etc. is not acceptable police service no matter where you live.”

Kirchherr said he expects the Budget Committee to decide on the police budget by by mid- to late-April.

The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, to address the areas of administration, boards and committees, parks and recreation, intergovernmental and revenues.

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PARIS — Last week the Paris Budget Committee was presented with an updated proposal for police coverage in town, which includes laying off one full-time officer and a cut of more than $108,000, according to budget documents.

The $108,089 overall cut from the police department’s budget comes from laying off current School Resource Officer (SRO) Gino Valeriani and in a reduction of health insurance and other benefits, according to Interim Police Chief Jeff Lange’s proposal. This would reduce the town’s police force down to seven full-time officers, four reserve officers and one administrative assistant, allowing for the continuance of 24/7 police patrol in Paris.

No action was taken at the Wednesday, March 9 meeting, according to Chairman Bob Kirchherr. Interim Town Manager Sawin Millett presented the updated numbers and deferred questions to Lange.

“Jeff put together a budget that he feels represents an adequate police presence in the community,” Kirchherr said. “We sat and listened to a lot of questions about coverage and activity. No decision was made.”

The new proposal has an operating budget of $498,350, which includes the $46,200 reimbursement from SAD 17 for the SRO position. This represents a 17.8 percent decrease from the current police department operating budget of $544,550. The debt service from vehicle payments for 2016 is $19,241. Lange also calculated the police department’s assets, which including equipment, cruisers and the building, totals $437,129.

Valeriani is the least senior patrol officer and would be laid off because of the current union agreement, according to Lange. But Valeriani would be offered a reserve officer position in the department.

The department’s second in command, Patrol Sgt. Skip Mowatt would remain patrol supervisor and return as Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s SRO, under Lange’s new proposal. The interim chief requested to promote Detective Rick Belanger to detective sergeant, who could assist in supervising and split the workload with Mowatt. The promotion would only be a title change and Belanger wouldn’t receive a raise, according to Lange.

Selectmen, town administration and the budget committee are aiming to reduce this year’s budget by $500,000 after residents have called for tax relief. One of the options suggested is to eliminate the police department and contract with the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Wayne Gallant has since submitted three proposals to the town for police coverage. The newest proposal has a smaller price tag than the first and would cost the town $363,064 for the first year and $324,500 for the second for three full-time deputies and detective duties to be split between the county’s detectives. This includes cruisers as well. 

In his budget proposal, Lange warned of costs that haven’t been fully discussed if the town voted to disband its police department and contract with the sheriff’s office.

“There will be a cost that has not been calculated as far as payouts for holidays, personal days, vacations, etc. per member and unemployment expenses for those individuals,” Lange wrote about his department’s current staff. “[There] are the possibilities of … being charged for police services from Norway and Oxford for those departments responding to the town of Paris when the Sheriff’s Office cannot respond in a timely fashion. This will ultimately come down to the administration personnel of those towns and how much they will charge, if any.”

In his budget documents, he provided several charts and figures. This included the 2015 average response times for the number of calls for service for each category for Paris, Oxford and Norway police, along with the Sheriff’s Department.

“With the exception of one call of service listed below, the Oxford Sheriff’s Office response times are far greater than the three agencies listed,” Lange wrote. The category was for suicide attempts, where the deputies had speedier response times than Paris and Norway police, but not Oxford.

“Compared to the Sheriff’s Office proposal, the deputies do not have any vested interest into the town of Paris as far as quality of life complaints and other crimes, the response times to a call will greatly increase in time if they can get a hold of a deputy in the middle of the night to wake up, get dressed and respond from parts unknown,” Lange wrote. “Waiting for an officer to respond the next day for a loitering call, graffiti call, property damage call, etc. is not acceptable police service no matter where you live.”

Kirchherr said he expects the budget committee to make decisions about the spending plan by mid- to late-April. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, where committee members will address the areas of administration, boards and committees, parks and recreation, intergovernmental and revenues.

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