DIXFIELD — Interim police Chief Jeffrey Howe presented his proposed 2015-16  budget to selectmen and the Finance Committee on Tuesday evening, saying the department needs gear for a new officer, new radar units and upgrades to laptop computers.

Howe said his budget proposal is “comparable” to the previous year, though there are several line items with increases.

The proposed spending plan is over $400,000, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said.

“In order to hire another officer, we’re going to have to fully outfit him,” he said. “That means a uniform, boots, duty gear and a ballistic vest. I reached out to the group that outfits us and they gave us a reasonable price.”

Howe said he the money to outfit a new officer is in the clothing allowance budget.

“I budgeted for about $2,800, but we may be able to get some of the money back, depending on whether we’re approved for a ballistic vest grant,” he said. “I’m waiting to hear back to see if the grant could cover up to 50 percent of that cost. I’m just not sure yet if we’ll get the money, so I put the entire amount in the budget.”


Another increase is in the capital expenses account, Howe said.

Another need is radar units, he said.

“In the past, when one of our radar units has a problem, we send them out to get repaired,” the chief said. “We spend anywhere between $300 and $500, and usually, they don’t last for more than a year before we have to send them out again.

“I just found out about a grant through the Bureau of Highway Safety that offers to do a 75 percent match for brand-new equipment, including radars,” he said. “I budgeted $1,250 to get new radars put in our cars. Our radars are getting old. We’ve had them for about 12 years now. Whenever we get a new car, we take the old equipment and shift them to the new cars.”

Howe said he also plans to look for grant money to fund upgrades to department laptops.

“The laptops we have now are so old that if they were to break down, there would be no support for them,” Howe said. “We’d be left with nothing to operate for a mobile data center.”


Later in the meeting, the Board of Selectmen suggested the salary for police chief be lowered from $53,652 to $50,000.

“We had a 20-year veteran as police chief making the salary before,” Belskis said, referring to Richard Pickett, who retired in January. “It doesn’t look like we’ll have that same option, by the looks of it. We know, in the future, there will be raises, and if you have someone new start at $53,652, it’s only going to go up from there.”

Puiia said Wednesday that once the town hires Pickett’s successor, the salary would be $50,000 for the first six months. After that, wages would be adjusted following a review.


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