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January 16, 2014

Atkinson residents to vote on full, part-time chief

Warrant article will be on Town Meeting ballot

ATKINSON — The future of the police chief’s position will come down to the voters. Former selectman Brian Boyle filed a citizens petition Monday to keep the chief’s position part time for the next 36 months.

“It’s pretty traditional that any big thing that’s new always goes in front of the voters as a warrant article,” Boyle said yesterday.

Selectmen announced in October that they would be changing the position from part time to full time after recommendations from two separate consultants. The town is currently searching for a new police chief.

Selectmen’s Chairman William Friel said yesterday he will respect the voters decision.

“The great part about our political system is it includes the residents and gives them a voice and a chance to be a part of the process,” Friel said. “As always, I will honor the will of the voters.”

Boyle said the position is best suited to stay part time.

“I think they’re able to run this town on a part-time basis,” Boyle said. “I don’t know any city or town that has extra money to spend by doing this.”

But Town Administrator Bill Innes said the town would save money by making the position full time. By doing that, the town plans to reduce the number of full-time officers from seven to six.

According to Innes, by adding a full-time chief, the total salaries of the 18 officers would be $517,974. With a part-time chief and an extra officer, the total salaries would be $541,483. Last year, police salaries were $563,006.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other departments and other chiefs,” Innes said. “They all say it’s time for us to go to a full-time chief.”

Friel agreed it’s time for a change.

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