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No Action On New London Police Department Budget

Finance Committee begins reviewing proposed FY 2013 budget, but no funding proposal made for NLPD

Chief Margaret Ackley will appear before the Finance Committee for a second time this month after city councilors requested more information on revenues.

The committee began meeting Monday to discuss a fiscal year 2013 budget proposed by Mayor Daryl Finizio. The represents a 6.4 percent budget increase, with a mill rate increase of 4.97 mills to 30.28.

Finizio’s budget proposes an increase of $711,394, or 6.15 percent, to the police department’s budget. This would increase the budget from the $11,569,257 appropriated for the current fiscal year to $12,280,651.

Most of the proposed increases are a result of contractual obligations and benefits for employees. Ackley said there are currently vacancies in the deputy chief’s position, two captains’ positions, seven uniformed officers’ positions, and one crime analyst position. The budget proposes leaving the officers’ positions and one captain’s position vacant and unfunded for the fiscal year while budgeting for the rest.

Leaving the officers’ positions unfunded reduces uniformed payroll by $547,276. Councilor Adam Sprecace noted an increase in overtime payroll over recent years, with $450,000 budgeted for 2012 and a projection that $695,143 will be spent. The 2013 budget proposal calls for $688,800 for uniformed services overtime. Ackley said the overtime is a result of officers covering shifts with a smaller workforce, but said other factors play a part as well, including the need to use flex hours to the department's advantage.

According to the budget proposal, the department is projected to overspend its 2012 budget by $505,579. Sprecace said the City Council approved a 2012 police budget similar to that requested by the department, with the exception of . However, Ackley said she felt the budget was ultimately insufficient for the operation of the department.

“No one realized that what was in front of you was not adequate, because we were fighting over the $18,000 that wasn’t accurate,” she said.

This was a reference to budget discussions last year, which included discussions over of $10,000 for former Deputy Chief Marshall Segar and $18,000 for Ackley. On Monday, Ackley said she was unaware that former City Manager Denise Rose had included the proposals in the budget until last year's Finance Committee meeting on the police budget.

Ackley said she also felt the city is at risk of underfunding its retirement mandates, saying that the department’s expenditures could balloon if several tenured employees decide to retire. She also said she has looked to find savings in a number of areas, including deciding not to request a new detective’s position and leaving out requests for supplies such as new office equipment and voice recorders, out of concern for the potential tax increase.

“I live in the city. I’m a taxpayer. I’m very sympathetic to that,” she said.

Ackley was also asked about discussions on potentially regionalizing animal control with Waterford or Groton, and she replied that the talks came to a halt last year. She said she thinks the facility needs improvement, but that the animal control officers work to have food and supplies donated and keep the shelter’s operations going at a minimal cost to the city.

Councilor John Maynard said he felt upgrading the shelter is the best option for the city.

“We get the one-time cost of upgrading the dog pound, but in the end we’ll be saving,” he said.

Also on Monday, the Finance Committee unanimously approved:

  • A $145,000 elections budget, a reduction of $31,432 from the proposed amount.
  • The $19,000 budget requested for the .
  • A $330,142 budget for the , a reduction of $9,000 from the proposed amount.

 

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Debbie April 10, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Patch Reporters, give readers an overview of each budget (City Department) as presented to the City Council. For example, what proposed increase was made by City Department, Registar of Voters for Election Day budget? Please elaborate.
Kenneth R. Lewis April 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Chief Margaret Ackley will appear before the Finance Committee for a second time this month after city councilors requested more information on New London Police Department revenues. She must be very new at this to show up at the meeting with out being prepared, or she has no respect for the finance committee, or maybe she was told by the mayor to be vague. Very strange for sure. “I live in the city. I’m a taxpayer. I’m very sympathetic to that,” she said. But look at the comp time checks you have received and then your taxes seem to be of no financial hardship for you chief. A $330,142 budget for the City Clerk’s Office, a reduction of $9,000 from the proposed amount. But was it an increase over the last years budget? Come all the facts please, this is not the Day.
RGray April 10, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I'm not surprised. Wasn't it one of the recently retired captains that actually handled all of those financial matters, while the Chief took credit? Sad for the citizens of NL that Finizio and Ackley have the power they do.
Sue P. April 10, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Did any of you watch this meeting? It was like watching a Abbott and Costello skit. Q: so why do you need all this money? A: I don't know ask the finance director. The finance director says I don't know I didn't do the paperwork and don't know what is going on with this budget. He even said it's a lousy budget at one point. You could tell the finance committee was getting aggravated. Could you imagine saying we need a $400,000 raise and not being able to say why? There is something seriously wrong here.
Thomas Cornick April 10, 2012 at 07:36 PM
We have plenty of officers per capita here in New London so a budget increase or additional officers for the NLPD is more of a poitical issue than one of public safety. Money would be better spent on infrastructure such as drainage, sidewalks , and curbs unless the new norm is for the sidewalks to be the gutters and flooding acceptable. As for the chief , considering the council's handling of the retirement funding related to department housecleaning, I am surprised she would show up to defend her budget unless ordered to do so. I do hope she hangs in there until a few more bad apples are sent packing.
Dennis Downing April 10, 2012 at 08:36 PM
If you are a taxpayer of N.L. you should be able to, go to city hall and get a hard copy of the city budget budget. If were expected to pay for 18.5 new position then the least we should get for our money is a hard copy. If your not real handy with a computer your are going to have a hard time reading it on line. If you don't have a computer your out of luck.
Sue P. April 10, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Why look at the budget on paper. The numbers were all wrong. Even the Finance director said there were a lot of mistakes. When the council asked the rec. guy why he needed so much for miscellaneous funds he said they might be starting some new programs. The Dept. heads are trying to get as much as they can hoping no one will notice.
Sue P. April 11, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Just a few reminders of the spending by the Mayor that was not authorized and not in the budget approved by the last council: Hired a Department head for Office of Planning & Development at over $100,000 including benefits Hired a Secretary at $60,000 and then increased her salary a few weeks later by $10,000 to $70,000 Hired two additional employees to the Office of Mayor then was approved Renovated City Hall and bought new furniture Told the City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk they no longer would be employed. He paid the City Clerk over $32,000 to leave then hired back the Assistant for several months at over $10,000 cost to the city Allowed the former City Manager Denise Rose to be paid over $45,000 in compensatory and vacation time even though her contract did not provide for these benefits. She only worked for this city for 11 months Deputy Fire Chief Position was not in this year budget at $100,000 including benefits Increased the finance director salary from $96,000 to over $126,000. He has only been here for 10 months Settlements for three police administrators that were performing their jobs at cost of over $500,000 How much of this part of the budget should be cut, and believe me there is a lot more.
Get Real April 11, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Wow... amazing. People really needs to get a clue about how things are. I guess you learn alot reading the day paper and patch.
Cara Hatfield April 13, 2012 at 10:48 AM
While I agree that there's an issue with unbudgeted spending, I believe that hiring a department head for Development & Planning was an absolute necessity. That position was eliminated a few years ago simply because someone (or a group of 'someones') didn't want Mr. Hyde holding the position any longer. Since then the three division heads in ODP have reported to a few different people, none of whom were qualified to oversee that kind of work. One person in particular caused great harm to the department and the city and I know that I wasn't the only one pleased to see him go. In order for New London to move forward in a positive direction, ODP needs stability and strong leadership; hopefully the new department head can bring that.

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