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Village Board Hosts First Budget Work Session

Police, fire departments discuss departmental needs

Garden City Police Commissioner Ernest Cipullo asked the Village Board of Trustees at last Thursday’s 2012-13 capital/operating budget session for a significant bump in funding to cover overtime pay due to the erratic and incalculable nature of police work.

“As I said at the last budget session, the police business is very unpredictable,” Cipullo said. “We can’t really tell you what’s going to happen next week. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in the next five minutes. Accordingly, we were operating most of the last year with six officers out on long-term injury, three vacant positions, and one civilian dispatcher position, so you’re talking about 10 people out of the chart. We had to cover that with overtime on many occasions. I hate to tell you, but the overtime that we budgeted last year- based on those vacancies or injuries — we’re at half-a-year and our overtime budget is pretty much gone.”

Cipullo noted that approximately 94 percent of the police operating budget is comprised of personnel costs, as mandated by an arbitrator’s decision.

“The result is a substantial increase in our bottom line,” he added. “We’re looking this year to bump that overtime up to $578,667. Now we may not reach that. Of the six people who were out on injury, we did get four of them back, so we still have two people out on long-term injury and we have one sergeant on a restricted, limited-duty, which means no street work. He works inside administratively.”

Cipullo said the total estimate for personnel services is $8,800,475, while non-personnel is $550,975. “Our total operating budget is $9,359,450,” he acknowledged. “As you can see, that’s an increase of about 16.4 percent in personnel services. There was a 15.32 percent total operating budget increase.” The commissioner also asked for the three positions to be reinstated that were taken from the budget last year.

Garden City Fire Chief Charles Cavarra also detailed the fire department operating budget in a lengthy presentation to the board. Cavarra said one item he would like to have added to the village budget is $3,500 for a grant writer to help secure funding. “These grant writers have produced many large awards for local fire departments,” Cavarra added. “This money would be well-spent. This guy basically guarantees getting at least a $10,000 grant.” Garden City’s fire department hopes to replace “a couple trucks over the next couple years,” and they hope this grant writer can help secure additional funding from the federal government instead of having to rely on money coming from the pockets of Garden City taxpayers.

Cavarra said the total budget for the fire department is $7,038,724. After all the fees and expenses for personnel services and hydrant rentals, he said it’s “approximately $590,000 to run and maintain a fire department with three stations — 20 pieces of equipment and anything else that goes along with it. Out of that total, $180,000 is mandatory items - phone systems, gas, diesel - that leaves you with just over $400,000 to run a fire department, as far as maintenance costs, tires, etc. — and that’s not really a big number. That’s what we’re dealing with at this point. The budget is 75 percent salaries and benefits, 83 percent with the hydrant rental in it, 8.7 percent capital items and that leaves you with 8.4 percent left.”

Village Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh said the fire department presented “more or less, a flat budget.” He added that last year’s fire department budget was tight and financially prudent, so it may be time to make some of the requested maintenance repairs to fire trucks that have been deferred in recent years.

The next budget study/work session to address the 2012-13 operating/capital budget will be held Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Village Hall boardroom.