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Cuts to Massena police budget bring proposed tax levy increase down to 6.3 percent

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MASSENA — The village’s police chief has trimmed his proposed spending plan for 2014-15 and the savings will result in the tentative tax levy increase dropping from 8.6 percent to 6.3 percent.

At the urging of village officials, Massena Police Chief Timmy J. Currier reviewed his budget prior to Friday’s meeting, coming up with a proposal that trimmed the department’s expenses by $125,444.

“Throughout the last few weeks, I have held several meetings with my management team, the union and various staff members to look at ways to reduce this budget,” he said. “Frankly, it wasn’t easy, but I have identified more than $125,000 in cuts that can happen.”

Mr. Currier’s proposed cuts are broken down by $38,054 from the department’s equipment budget and $87,390 from the personnel budget.

The money cut from the equipment budget was going to be used to buy a new vehicle, but Mr. Currier said he thought that purchase could be delayed a year.

“I have cut the purchase of the police car that was allocated for. We are working on ways to make it through with our current fleet,” he said, adding two of the department’s vehicles have more than 100,000 miles on their odometers.

The bulk of the personnel savings come from the retirement of a longtime officer and the salary savings resulting from filling the position with an “entry-level” officer. Mr. Currier said the difference in salary translates to $31,000 in savings, with additional savings coming from adjustments to the overtime budget.

“That retirement lowered the average rates of pay, which we base overtime projections on, so each of those lines in the budget were adjusted accordingly,” he said, adding he also trimmed the department’s training budget by $12.225.

The department’s 2014-15 budget ends up totaling $1,934,902, $2,142 less than the current year’s spending plan.

Treasurer Julie Sharlow said a reason this year’s budget has been so difficult is the amount of fund balance available.

“If we were able to appropriate fund balance like we have in the past two years, we would be below where we were last year, but we don’t have it available to appropriate,” she said.

Ms. Sharlow said this year’s budget is using only $250,000 from fund balance compared with last year’s $572,937.

According to Ms. Sharlow’s projections, the village will have roughly $832,000 in its fund balance at the close of its fiscal year.

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld said he realizes this year’s budget sessions haven’t been easy, but he’s hopeful the work officials are putting in now will pay off.

“We can do the hard stuff now and it will be easier down the road,” he said.

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