How and where your tax dollars would be used during the next fiscal year was laid bare yesterday with city officials detailing their budget requests.
Most of the city’s departments, during budget hearings held all day at City Hall yesterday, presented their budget requests and answered inquiries from City Councilors.
The hearings continue tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. with the Waltham Public Schools presenting its budget as well as Mayor Jeanette McCarthy
Take a look below for what new positions would be created, what concerns were raised and what interesting facts were revealed.
- Fire Department: Fire Chief Paul Ciccone is requesting a new captain for the training department. Ciccone said it would allow the fire department to expand its training efforts.
- Traffic: The Traffic Commission is asking for a new traffic engineer.
- Wires: Wires Inspector Tim Kelly said he wants to expand a part-time wires inspector post to a full-time position. It would allow more inspections to be completed.
- Waltham Police are requesting an additional office assistant for Police Chief Thomas LaCroix. The chief said his office previously had four assistants, but decreased to two some years ago.
- Also, LaCroix said he requested three new police cadets, and received approval for one.
- The water/sewer/engineering department is asking for a new business manager for its office. City Engineer Stephen Casazza said it would better allow the office to track money and other business items.
- He is also asking for a new construction inspector to assure crews are not interfering with city infrastructure operations, according to Casazza.
- Casazza is also asking for a part-time co-op student that would assist in its office.
- City Councilor Paul Brasco said he would like to see the fire department reduce its overtime funding. Brasco noted that it reached more than $900,000 during fiscal 2011 but Ciccone said the department had 16 vacant positions during that time as well as five long-term absences. This year, Mayor Jeanette McCarthy is recommending $500,000 in overtime funds.
- Overtime, however, is used to sustain minimum staffing levels, Ciccone said. He said he had discussed lowering overtime costs with McCarthy, but they agreed it was actually cheaper to pay overtime than hire additional firefighters. The department currently has 116 firefighters, which Ciccone said adequately serves the city.
- Councilors also raised concerns over the police department’s request for $1.67 million in overtime costs. LaCroix said he would like to reduce that figure too, but said the police union’s “liberal” absence policy hinders that objective. LaCroix noted he has little leverage over the union.
- “It’s a benefit they don’t want to give up too easily,” LaCroix said.
- Consolidated Public Works Director Michael Chiasson said his department was returning $1.1 million in unused snow & ice removal money to the city. The city, he said, used only about $340,000 of its allotted snow budget during the mild winter.
- Chiasson also said the city is negotiating going to single-stream recycling. Currently, residents must sort their items into different groups.
- The police department recently hired a new Animal Control Officer to fill the position that had been vacant since the previous one retired.