DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen agreed Monday to adjust the police budget for 2015-16 to make the position of reserve officer more attractive to full-time qualified officers.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Belskis told selectmen that while attending negotiations between the towns of Rumford and Mexico, who are attempting to consolidate their police departments, he realized that the town would have a better chance of attracting qualified officers to the town as reserves if the pay scale was adjusted.

“A couple of people in Rumford and Mexico who are signed on our list as reserves brought up that we may have a better chance of getting reserves in if we restructured the pay scale according to qualifications,” Belskis said. “By doing that, we’d also be using less overtime to fill shifts, which would save us money.”

Interim police Chief Jeff Howe said reserve officers are paid in the range of $11 to $12 an hour.

“Right now, with the amount that reserves get paid, I wouldn’t want to leave my position to work there,” Belskis said. “It’s hard to get a full-time officer with good qualifications to come here and serve as a reserve if the pay isn’t right.”

Selectman Hart Daley, who is chief Deputy of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, said Howe should consider a two-tier reserve pay scale.

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Howe said that in other towns, full-time qualified police officers are paid the starting rate for a full-time officer while in a reserve position, while a part-time officer is paid less as a reserve officer.

“Doing this would allow full-time qualified officers to come in and fill part-time shifts,” Howe said. “They could do things that part-time officers can’t do, and it would be worth it because the pay scale would be comparable.”

Daley said he would advocate for a two-tier pay scale, because it would “be the best way to get reserves into our town that are seasoned officers.”

Resident Aaron Jamison agreed with the board, adding, “Overtime is a killer. You can burn through a lot of money by relying on it to fill shifts.”

Selectman Dana Whittemore said it “makes fiscal sense to make the position more attractive.”

“It’s like spending $25 to save $50,” Belskis said. “It’s common sense. Right now, we’re spending overtime funds because we can’t find reserve officers to fill the position. This way, we can avoid that and maybe save some money.”

Town Manager Carlo Puiia told selectmen that when discussing the 2015-16 police budget, they could adjust the reserve budget to reflect the two-tier scale.

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