Published in the March 16, 2016 edition


WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted this week to approve the FY 2017 Police Department budget in the amount of $5,113,817, which includes an increase of $214,568 over the current fiscal year’s budget.
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio presented the budget highlights with Police Chief Rick Smith on hand to answer any questions.
Maio noted that the Police Department consists of 46 officers, including the Chief. He praised WPD as a “mission based” police department and reminded the board that Wakefield has one of the few accredited police departments in the state.
In terms of the budget, Maio pointed out that of the $214,568 increase, $195,548 was in the personal services line item for negotiated contractual pay increases.
Maio noted that there were line items in the budget that were either increased or decreased. One of the areas increased was for police coverage of the local Independence Day events.
He said that the Training line item was increased by $5,000 and an additional $7,500 was budgeted for Firearms Qualification.
The amount for Contractual Services was increased by $11,920, Maio said, but due to falling gas prices the budget for gas and oil was decreased by $12,000.
The medical supplies budget was increased, Maio said, due in large part to having the opiate antidote NARCAN available to officers at all times.
Smith echoed Maio’s explanation that the bulk of this year’s budget increase was due to contractually negotiated personnel obligations. Otherwise, he described the FY 2017 budget as “tight,” with some line items increased and some decreased.
Smith noted that the Wakefield police department is doing much more with the Internet and is very active on social media apps like Facebook and Twitter. He also noted that the department is now using an app to facilitate more ways to interact with the public.
He noted that the Police Department budget was constantly moving and often dictated by events beyond anyone’s control.
The selectmen also approved the Vocational School budget at $1,146,683. The bulk of that amount ($996,141) is paid to the Northeast Metro Tech where Wakefield sends 63 students. Smaller amounts also go to Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington and Essex Technical High School in Danvers where a few Wakefield students take courses not offered by Northeast.
Transportation costs related to vocational education are budgeted at $30,106, Maio said.
Selectman Betsy Sheeran asked about the cost of sending students to Essex and Minuteman for courses not offered at Northeast Metro Tech. She wondered if it wouldn’t be more cost effective if Northeast were to hire teachers to offer those courses, which other students could then also benefit from.