WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday got a first in-depth look at a proposed $3.9 million Police Department budget that represents a $166,000 increase over the current budget.

Police Chief Joseph Massey presented his budget in a workshop held in the council chamber. Increases in the proposal are reflected in wages and benefits and items including group health insurance and operational costs.

In the administration budget, which represents $151,569 of the proposed increase, Maine state retirement costs increased by $33,760, group health insurance went up by $35,340 and the department wants to buy a $33,000 police cruiser, according to Massey. Most of the administration increase is in wages and benefits and the rest is operational costs.

Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 6, noted that last year, police looked at leasing a vehicle for use by detectives. Massey said the department leased a vehicle for three years and just passed the one-year mark. He said it is working well and the lease is paid for through forfeiture money. Detectives previously got hand-me-down vehicles, he said.

Asked by Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, about the department’s Operation Hope program, which enables police to help place drug addicts in treatment, Massey said it has surpassed his expectations. While initially the department sought to help only local people, it started getting calls from around the state, he said.

The program started in January 2017 and is funded through police fundraisers including concerts and golf tournaments. The program requires a lot of resources, Massey said. For instance, three officers do intake, which happens around the clock.

Police provide addicts with toiletries, book them flights to treatment centers, provide transportation to the airport and coordinate with treatment centers so someone is there at the other end to pick the people up, Massey said.

“I think we’re close now to 100 people we’ve put through the program,” he said. “Not all of them are successful. We’ve already had some come back and say, ‘You saved my life.'”

The police budget is part of a proposed $18.2 municipal budget for 2018-19 that represents a decrease of 0.8 percent from the current $18.3 million budget.

The city and school budget approved last year was $39.9 million. The reason the proposed municipal budget reflects a decrease is that no capital improvements are being proposed other than $250,000 for roads.

The Waterville Board of Education on Monday took the first of two needed votes to approve a proposed $24.4 million school budget for 2018-19. The school board and the council are scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. April 24 to discuss their budgets.

Other departments presenting budgets Tuesday were Waterville Public Library, Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport, parks and recreation and human resources.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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