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The FY 2023 Budget

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Finance Committee reviews proposed spending plans for police and fire departments

  Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree has recommended a Police Department budget of $9 million for the 2023 Fiscal Year that begins July 1 – an increase of more than $456,000 over the current year. Salaries and full-time wages of the police force account for $283,235 of the proposed budget hike.

  Meanwhile, Crabtree supports the $6 million budget request for the Saugus Fire Department – an increase of $240,000 over the current budget. Salaries and wages of full-time Fire Department personnel account for about $4.6 million of the department’s budget request.

  The Finance Committee received its annual briefings on Wednesday (March 16) from the police and fire chiefs as committee members began their department-by-department review of the FY 2023 budget that will be submitted with recommendations to the Annual Town Meeting in May. The Finance Committee is scheduled to resume its budget review at 7 p.m. next Wednesday (March 23) with the spending plans of Saugus Public Schools on the agenda.

  “This is a great presentation,” Finance Committee Chair Kenneth DePatto told Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli after he briefed the committee on the Police Department spending plan.

  DePatto noted that the budget was level-funded for the most part except for the increases in department salaries and the overtime training budget. DePatto said he was also pleased with the budget presentation by Saugus Fire Chief Michael C. Newbury.

  Committee members had few questions for the two chiefs. (See related stories.) DePatto asked Chief Ricciardelli to talk about the Police Department’s involvement with the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), for the benefit of the public.

  “I think it’s a great thing,” DePatto said.

  “Unfortunately, we’ve had to use it a few times … they answer the bell,” Chief Ricciardelli said.

  The town has an agreement with NEMLEC, which consists of 57 law enforcement agencies that operate according to a mutual aid and assistance agreement. NEMLEC is available to respond to any major incident in Saugus.

  “The NEMLEC team responded to the Square One Mall in the past when it was believed that an armed suspect was hiding inside Dick’s Sporting Goods,” Chief Ricciardelli said.

  “As a result of the agreement the Saugus Police Department must commit four of its officers to the NEMLEC team. These officers will be required to do eight hours of training per month with NEMLEC. One of our officers is also a member of the NEMLEC SWAT team,” the chief said.

  As a member of the SWAT team, the officer is required to do 16 hours of training per month as well as 60 hours of in-service training, he said.

  “NEMLEC has a Critical Incident Stress Management Team that uses three members of our department. These members will need to train for eight hours each month. The Saugus Police Department is responsible for the training overtime costs of these officers,” the chief said.

  With the amount of gun violence on K-12 school campuses throughout the country, the chief said the Police Department needs to be trained and prepared for a potential incident at the new Saugus Middle-High School. “With the recent opening of the new High School/Middle School, we believe it would be a great time to begin active shooter classes in the new school,” the chief said. “This would not only allow our officers to continue to familiarize themselves with the layout of a school that they never attended but also give us a chance to run some active shooter response drills.”

  The chief said he has requested funding for a four-hour block of training for all of the department’s officers.

  Fire Chief Newbury said the Fire Department is in the process of hiring four new firefighters. “That will bring us back to our high-water mark of 60,” he said.

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