EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

May 26, 2014

Fiorentini to pitch $167M budget Tuesday

Includes money for more cops, Route 97 improvements

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini will pitch a $167 million budget to the City Council tomorrow night.

The spending proposal, which is up $3.5 million or 2.1 percent over this year, includes money for three more police officers and $500,000 to repave the deteriorated Consentino School parking lot and to design improvements along the Water Street and Broadway gateway corridors.

The mayor’s plan includes $93.2 million for city schools, up $2.5 million or about 2.7 percent.

Police spending is expected to be the most controversial and debated part of the new city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Councilors have said adding officers and giving police more resources is their top budget priority.

Fiorentini’s budget provides money for three new patrolmen, while police Chief Alan DeNaro said he needs seven more officers to run the department properly.

In all, the chief asked for about $685,000 above the mayor’s proposal for positions, equipment and repairs and improvements to the police station, including $367,825 to fix the building’s roof. The mayor has said he will ask the council for permission to borrow money to repair or replace the roof later this year.

The mayor’s budget includes $25,000 to start a police reserve officer program. The money is for uniforms, vests and psychological and physical testing, he said.

About 10 police positions are unfilled because it can take up to a year to replace an officer who retires, under the Civil Service process, the mayor and chief said.

Fiorentini said the best way to speed up the hiring process is to have a stable of reserve officers who have already gone through the police academy or at least had some local training. The mayor said he wanted the chief to start a reserve officer program this year, but that he will insist upon it in the coming year.

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