DIXFIELD – The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 Monday evening to approve the $378,515 budget request for the Police Department.

Selectmen Dana Whittemore, Eugene Skibitsky, and Mac Gill voted in favor of the budget proposal, while Selectman Norman Mitchell voted against it.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the budget request is slightly higher than the $355,000 residents approved in 2015. He said many of the increases were due to unavoidable circumstances.

“When Richard Pickett was still the chief of police, he didn’t require the same health insurance package that other officers had,” Puiia said. “It impacted the budget a little bit, and we were fortunate that we didn’t have to budget that when Pickett was chief. However, we’re now in a situation where we have to offer those benefits.”

Puiia said there was also “no union agreement in place prior to last year. That has an effect on the way the budget is set up too.”

One change the Police Department will face heading into the 2016-17 fiscal year is switching from a five-man to a four-man force.


Police Chief Jeff Howe said the COPS grant the department received in 2012 was coming to an end two weeks into the upcoming fiscal year.

“The way that we’re going to handle the coverage is by placing me back into the rotation, taking the spot that Dustin Broughton had under the COPS grant,” Howe told the board and Finance Committee. “That would put me in a dual role as an officer and an administrator.”

During a previous board meeting, Puiia said he budgeted an extra six weeks to keep the fifth officer with the department to help compensate for other officers taking vacations.

Howe agreed with the extra time, pointing out that a lot of his officers take vacation time during the summer months when their children are off from school.

“We also have a higher call volume during those months, so having that fifth officer will really help out,” Howe said.

Skibitsky asked if Howe and the rest of the department could continue providing 24-hour coverage with a four-man department.


“Yes, the town will still have 24-hour coverage,” Howe said. “The only concern may be how to split up some of the calls. There will be times where I’ll be busy with pressing administrative duties, and instead of being able to focus on cases, I’ll have to pass them off to the next officer on duty.”

Mitchell said he wanted to see the budget decreased to $355,000, and thought the proposed budget was “inflated.”

Whittemore said he was OK with approving an increased budget, because he’s anticipating any leftover money will go toward tax relief.

Near the end of the discussion, Whittemore told Howe, “I don’t think there seems to be a lot of discussion or questions about the budget in terms of numbers. I think the big question is how to make the four-man department work.”


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