NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Police Chief Richard Stanley told selectmen last night that crime in neighboring Lawrence is spreading into town, and predicted a "horror show" if nothing is done to protect the police budget.
Stanley had strong words for both Lawrence and the $4.2 million budget Town Manager Mark Rees is recommending for the North Andover Police Department in the next fiscal year.
Rees is proposing $80,095 in cuts to the department.
"This budget is not workable," said Stanley. "This budget is dangerous. Something has to be done. ... Somebody's going to get hurt."
Stanley said he is concerned crime problems in the city of Lawrence will continue to impact town police officers and potentially "our lifestyle in North Andover."
Rees' budget recommendation represents a 1.87 percent reduction from the current police budget. Stanley requested $4.6 million for the Police Department next year.
Stanley said his department's overtime accounts are "already low," but Rees' recommendation calls for overtime reductions of more than $47,000.
"We're running minimum staffing," said Stanley. "It's a dangerous situation."
Stanley said he will have less money to pay reserve officers next year.
He also requested that four police cruisers be replaced, though only two new vehicles were approved.
Stanley said the Police Department fleet consists of 10 marked cruisers, eight unmarked cruisers, two marked K-9 Unit vehicles, a pickup truck and an animal control van.
Stanley said several of the vehicles are old and have over 100,000 miles on them.
"They're driven pretty hard and a lot," said Stanley. "They're not safe for our officers to be in."
Rees released a $53.3 million budget recommendation in February that calls for a 1 percent reduction from this year's operating budget, which equates to about $507,000 in cuts.
Rees is proposing $36.6 million for the School Department -- roughly $1.5 million less than what Superintendent Christopher Hottel and the School Committee recommend -- and $16.7 million for the municipal side.
Selectmen also heard from fire Chief Andrew Melnikas and the heads of the town's Information Technology and Public Works departments last night.
Like Stanley, Melnikas requested $4.6 million for his department.
Rees instead is recommending $4.3 million next year for the Fire Department -- a $55,199 or 1.26 percent reduction from this year's budget.
Rees is recommending $150,000 less in overtime spending.
"I understand it's not going to be a good year," said Melnikas, who said overtime remains his biggest concern. "The rest I can work around."'
McClatchy-Tribune News Service