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January 10, 2014

Budget Committee advises against full-time chief

Selectmen insist new chief will be full time

ATKINSON — The Budget Committee and selectmen are at odds over the police chief’s position.

The Budget Committee voted to include only $25,000 for the position in this year’s budget. Selectmen had requested $78,000 this year in an effort to change the position from part time to full time.

“We just think that such a thing should go to voters, rather than be made by the selectmen,” Budget Committee member Bill Smith said.

Selectmen have been trying to make the position full time after a recommendation by two consultants. Town Administrator Bill Innes said the Budget Committee’s recommendation will not deter selectmen from making the position full time.

“The Budget Committee does what the Budget Committee wants to do,” Innes said. “But they don’t make town policy.”

Innes said if the Budget Committee decides to keep the chief’s salary at $25,000, selectmen would still make sure the position is funded to support a full-time budget.

“We will move money around if that’s what we need to do,” Innes said.

Innes said it has been difficult working with the Budget Committee this year.

“It’s been frustrating working with them,” he said. “Their purpose just seems to be cutting the budget. We have had difficulties working with them and we have had many disagreements.”

Smith said the Budget Committee is looking for an increase around 2 percent from last year’s budget, while selectmen are looking at a 9 percent increase.

“I just think that with any significant increase, it should go to the voters,” he said. “This may be justified by a small change, but with something like this, a warrant article is a better mechanism.”

The town has seen three police chiefs within the last year. Last February, longtime police chief Philip Consentino was dismissed by selectmen for “cause.”

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