| Carling Willis
HAMPDEN – Hampden hosted a Board of Selectmen meeting on Feb. 4. With the New Year, a common topic at the meeting was discussing budget changes looking ahead to 2020. Chief Farnsworth and Sergeant Mike Cooney were in attendance at the meeting to speak on behalf of the town’s police department and possible changes they would like to see in their budget for the following year.
Farnsworth brought up three areas of their budget to The Selectmen: bringing on another full time dispatcher, replacing two police cruisers and implanting a new radio system for the police department to use.
Currently there are four fulltime dispatcher positions and one part time dispatcher on staff. Due to the lack of part time hours, many of the officers who take the part time position leave to peruse an opportunity elsewhere with more hours and a higher salary after a short time in the job. Farnsworth explained that the amount of time, money and resources they use multiple times throughout the year in order to train a part time employee ends up being very expensive in their budget, making it more worth while to make the position full time and committing to paying an employee a full time salary.
The Selectmen were able to negotiate with Farnsworth and he agreed to asking for one police cruiser now and bringing up the possibility of another cruiser this fall. The cost for each cruiser would be around $40,000.
Farnsworth told the Board that the radio system that the Hampden police officers are currently using is old and unreliable. When the board asked him how soon they needed a new radio system, Farnsworth responded simply with, “Yesterday.” He then further explained that once a new radio system is picked, it could take up to 14 months to install.
Town accountant, Cliff Bombard said, “We recognize the need but at the same time are wary of the cost impact.” Fransworth estimated at the meeting the cost of the new radio system could be $1.2 million.
No decisions to any of these requests were made at the meeting. The Selectmen, Farnsworth, Cooney and Bombard all agreed that these requests must be further discussed and the budget needed to be looked at in more detail. Any decisions made are also open to a Town Meeting vote.
In closing, Selectman John Flynn told Farnsworth, “You’ve alerted us to the problem, we’ll make a move at this fall meeting.”