Rindge’s technology budget is expected to drop significantly from last year’s adjusted budget, with several expenses expected to be paid for using American Rescue Plan funding.
During the Select Board and Budget Advisory Committee’s second joint session recently, the board reviewed 15 department budgets, including the police department, in their lead-up to a full budget review. Currently, budgets being reviewed do not include the largest expense for the town — salaries and benefits — while this year’s increases are still being discussed.
The department with the biggest difference the board reviewed is the technology budget, which was cut nearly in half. Last year’s adjusted budget for technology was $142,107, with the majority of the cost attributed to technical support and software. This year, there is no request for new hardware, which was a $10,000 expense last year.
Select Board Chair Karl Pruter explained the town had been purchasing about five computers a year, on a rolling basis, to replace outdated hardware across departments. The town still intends to purchase four new computer replacements this year, he said, but will be paying for them through the American Rescue Plan Act funds available to the town.
The police department operations budget is expected to stay mostly flat, with a 5 percent increase from $53,667 in the 2021 adjusted budget to $56,159 in the coming year. Police Chief Rachel Malynowski told the board she has changed the process for hiring new officers, which includes a polygraph and psychological evaluation. After several potential hires had gone through some of the process but did not pass the polygraph test, Malynowski said she intended to move up the polygraph testing in the process. There is a cost to administering the polygraph, which is why it had been later in the process, but Malynowski said the cost was negligible against the amount of time wasted on the administrative side.
Malynowski also asked for an increase in the budgets for ammunition, additional training and uniforms for expected new hires this year.
The department also virtually eliminated the line item for a “comfort canine,” though Malynowski said she would be dedicated to establishing a comfort canine program in the department eventually.
“We just currently don’t have an officer to take on that responsibility,” Malynowski said.
Election costs are expected to rise by $8,676 next year, to accommodate two additional elections compared to 2021.
Insurance costs are up this year, with an anticipated $7,000 increase in property and liability, and $9,000 in life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance.
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