Friday, October 3, 2008
Carlisle Police share detail costs with Selectmen
New regulations from the state Executive Office of Transportation released today will exempt communities from utilizing paid police details on state road projects. According to Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) contact Matthew Feher, towns may now hire “civilian flaggers on state contracts.” In Carlisle, this ruling will have little immediate impact, because the construction effort that has impacted town-paid police details the most this year consists of Pathways, a project under local funding and management. However, it is unclear whether future state funding for road projects, such as projected repairs to Route 225, may carry lower reimbursement fees to towns based on the presumed use of civilian flaggers versus police detail.
The MMA issued an advisory about the yet-to-be-finalized regulations on September 10. The memo piqued the interest of Carlisle Selectmen, the Carlisle Police Department, and concerned citizens aware of the recent increase in town-paid police details. Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie had already planned to include the topic in her report at the September 23 Selectmen’s meeting. The MMA memo noted that local police unions may be requesting that officials exempt communities from the new regulations. In fact, according to Chairman Doug Stevenson, the local police union had recently sent the Selectmen a letter to request that language be added to the existing contract to the effect that Carlisle “requires police on all road projects.” Officer Ron Holsinger appeared on behalf of the Police Department at the September 23 meeting to present recent information on detail fees as background to the Selectmen.
Officer Holsinger shared the data for “public” and “private” paid police details. The Department of Public Works (DPW) handles the public police details for the town, and in 2006 paid out $6,852 for their presence at Carlisle road projects. In 2007, the DPW paid out $6,728. In 2008 the amount is already at $13,885. The large DPW increase is related to Pathways, and an additional $14,000 has been charged directly to the Pathways project.
According to Holsinger, the department also provides paid private police detail, primarily involving other municipalities and organizations. In this area, the Carlisle town budget collects 10% of the police fees in revenues. In 2006 the town income came to $11,338, in 2007 to $13,893, and in 2008 to $19,092. Currently, the police department oversees all road-related construction projects in town and determines if a police detail is necessary, particularly on the busier town roads. After the meeting, Holsinger said that he hoped that the changed regulations would not negatively impact the Chief of Police’s oversight on state projects conducted in town. He did not see the new regulations as having a major impact on the current budget, however, because he estimated civilian flaggers only cost about $10-$15 less an hour (see also “News from surrounding towns,” page 18)
The Board of Selectmen went into executive session to determine whether or not they needed to take further action concerning the upcoming regulations. Prior to closing the meeting to the public, Stevenson advised that any language change would require reopening the contract with the police department and the meeting would need to reopen to the public for discussion. The Selectmen concluded no change was necessary at this time, however, and did not reopen the public meeting. ∆
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