MWDN: Southborough Police chief says department needs $70K

by susan on June 20, 2012

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Police Chief Jane Moran said recently the department will need an additional $70K to cover a budget gap for the current fiscal year, which ends later this month. Reports the Metrowest Daily News:

To avoid a deficit in this year’s budget, Police Chief Jane Moran this week asked for an additional $70,000 for unforeseen expenses, including training, overtime and educational pay.

Some of the smaller but most important costs, however, came as a result of changes she said she made the last few years to whip the department into shape.

“Unexpected costs, including the hiring and associated costs for training five officers could never have been anticipated,” she wrote in a June 11 memo to the Advisory Committee. “This turnover is attributable to employees being held accountable in their jobs.”

In addition to costs associated with turnover, Moran said the department had to absorb $50K in Quinn Bill payments and $96K over two years in injured-on-duty pay.

You can read more details in this article by the MWDN.

{ 4 comments }

1 Al Hamilton June 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM

This is an interesting question. The standard for a transfer from the reserve fund is that an expense be “unexpected”. Most of the items on the Chiefs list meet that requirement. However, the Quinn bill does not. This item was explicitly discussed, and debated and voted on by Town Meeting. It’s will was clear they were not going to pay for the Quinn Bill as part of the Police Dept appropriation.

As a consequence the “unexpected’ test is a difficult to justify. Town meeting very explicitly declined to appropriate money for this purpose. I do not think it appropriate to now try and end run and go to Advisory for those monies.

The BOS has the legal authority to move monies between accounts under its control during the last 3 months of the year. That would be the proper place to look for these monies.

2 BOB June 21, 2012 at 12:29 PM

I’m still waiting for the test scores.

3 Am I missing something? June 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Hold on a minute. Regarding the Quinn Bill money, Mr. Hamilton is quite correct when he writes —

“This item was explicitly discussed, and debated and voted on by Town Meeting. It’s will was clear they were not going to pay for the Quinn Bill as part of the Police Dept appropriation.”

So, how is it possible that, according to the MWDN, in October 2011 “the town agreed” that it would pay this money anyway? Just who is “the town” in this case?? Is the will of Town Meeting that easily circumvented? Am I missing something? It seems to me that this is not a trivial question.

4 Al Hamilton June 21, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Here is the bidding as I recall it:

1. The Quinn Bill is supposed to be funded 50-50 State-Local. The state did not appropriate the funds for its share. (That should tell you something right there)

2. The Police Chief and BOS wanted Town meeting to appropriate both the towns share and the states share.

3. The Contract that was in place with the Police Union clearly stated that the town was not on the hook if the State did not come up with its share.

4. Advisory took the position that the contract that was in place was clear and there was no reason to raise the tax money to pay the state share. Town Meeting agreed. This was explicitly discussed, debated, and voted on.

5. As part of the contract negotiations the BOS agreed to pick up the state portion of the Quinn monies and I believe they agreed to a retroactive payment. This contract was in fact approved by Town Meeting but I assure you that no one other than Town Counsel, The BOS, Administrator, and the Cheif had ever laid eyes on the document before it was approved. (We have ourselves to blame for buying a pig in a poke).

6. While the contract called for paying the monies no appropriation was ever made to provide the required funds. Only Town Meeting can appropriate money. The proper thing to have done was to ask Town Meeting to fund the missing monies out of “Free Cash” or one of the other reserve accounts to pay this contracted obligation. This is a clear failure by our financial team.

We are now left with a bad situation. Police operations cost about $30,000 a week. The chief is some $70k short. If you look at the calendar that means that the Police Department is out of money. If advisory says no, and it is fully within its rights to, what happens. I hope there is some record of the Chief/BOS going to Advisory well in advance and receiving voted assurances that there would be a settlement when the full extent of the shortfall was known. Otherwise this would represent very poor financial management.

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