The suggestion will be included, along with the selectmen’s recommendations, in the town report.

LIVERMORE FALLS – If voters at the June 11 town meeting see things the same way as the Budget Committee does, the town’s dispatch will continue to give 24-hour local coverage and the police department will retain its present coverage.

Town officials have agreed to include the Budget Committee’s recommendations along with their own on each article in the town report.

The committee approved the police budget after reviewing a letter from Chief Ernest Steward Jr. In it, Steward said that the option supported by the selectmen would have several consequences. Especially affected would be the town’s ability to train reserve officers who are needed to fill in, such as at vacation time, Steward said.

“The bottom line is the need for police officers is based on the community activity and geographic location, not the community size,” the chief said.

“We are barely keeping up now and to cut more personnel will only create more work for the officers left, more overtime costs to the town and a group of overwhelmed employees that are going to get burned out,” he said.

Selectmen have suggested reduced services in each department. By restoring full dispatch and the chief’s first choice budget, the committee recommendations are higher.

The selectmen’s recommendation for dispatch, with the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Office doing one shift, is estimated at $98,825, while the committee’s full dispatch would cost $125,867, a $27,000 increase.

Steward doesn’t feel the figures tally as there would be costs for equipment at the Sheriff’s Office for them to dispatch police and to Jay for them to dispatch the fire department.

He also suggested the town might face breach of contract charges if they get rid of a dispatcher, and he suggested any change be made at the end of the contract in June 2004.

“Let’s talk about it for a year, keep the dispatch the way it is and then look at ASO,” said Maxine Bailey, a former town manager.

For police, the selectmen have recommended $296,072 but the committee’s plan would have $297,558, less than a $1,500 increase.

Bailey asked about the 12-hour shifts that officers work, saying she had been told they receive overtime after eight hours.

Steward denied that, noting the overtime is after 40 hours (officers work 42 hours a week) unless they are called upon to work more than their 12-hour shift, which would be overtime.

This is where the need for reserves comes in, Steward explained, as one reserve officer at eight hours costs less than calling in a full-time man on four-hour overtime.


Comments are no longer available on this story