WEST LONG BRANCH: As the borough moves toward March 7, and the budget introduction for the coming year, workshops are in progress with the council. On Wednesday, Jan. 31 council met with the Police Department, Department of Public Works, First Aid and Fire Department.
For each, budget sheets were up for review and discussion for costs management, not including salaries at this point. That comes later. On Wednesday line-by- line details were explored, earlier submitted for review after Councilman Steve Bray (Financial Council person) had met with them individually.
The bottom line is that careful scrutiny and analysis, along with sharp decision making, has resulted in the aggregate four area costs pictures being essentially flat from 2017's figures.
Chief Financial Officer Michael Martin, accompanied by Purchasing Agent Dave Spaulding, were at the workshop as were the principals for each area. Mayor Janet Tucci asked Councilman Bray to guide the meeting. " Financial" is the area he covers for the governing body.
First up was the Fire Department's Ron Gudetti. Their costs for the new year would remain flat from 2017. No new vehicles are needed at this time. A newly purchased vehicle from last year needs some finishing touches - lettering was one - is in this year and costs have been added for computer maintenance ongoing to keep things up to date.
Capt. Mike Rescinio reviewed the First Aid picture. First Aid will remain flat for 2018. They will be adding laptop computers for recording of calls in lieu pf paper and to be responsive to State needs and court related documentation. The State can receive information in computer inputs from the towns.
DPW Director Earl Reed has been managing to lower costs for several years. A lot of his equipment is new. That allows lower maintenance. Even with recycling income down, his care and department efficiency has saved and will continue. His numbers are to run about $35K less this year.
Police Chief Paul Habermann has been looking to replace defibrillators as much needed. Condition and life expectancy are driving the decisions; to assure they are there when needed. Councilman Fred Migliaccio offered a suggestion that the Chief found helpful.
One of the cost causers he is having to deal with is result of the recent bail reform changes that cause more time, often overtime, to provide accelerated response times needed by courts and other agencies and legal principals.
He is working to add Special Officers Class 2 to meet these unique reporting requirements. That helps the financial issues, but not completely. Except for that, overtime has been managed with a trend of lowering OT for the last four years. The new law is adding costs. He hopes to be able to reduce 2018 costs, getting rid of costly vehicles as his plan for 2018.
He cautioned that storms and other unforeseen events can still impact the work load and costs.