Marblehead’s Abbot Hall. The Select Board approved budgets and expenses across town departments Friday morning. (Spenser Hasak)
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MARBLEHEAD — The Select Board unanimously voted to approve fiscal year 2024 reduced services budgets from departments that fall under the board’s purview Friday morning. The departments include the Police Department, Fire Department, and Building Inspection Department, among others.
Cuts across departments have been made in order to create a balanced budget for the town in response to an approaching deficit. The reduced services budgets are to go forward if a proposed $2.5 million override to maintain Marblehead’s current services does not pass through Town Election in June.
Police Chief Dennis King brought forward a reduced budget that is roughly $4.7 million in total. The cost of salaries takes up around $4.5 million of that number.
The Police Department’s reduced budget has $196,773 in cuts. In order to make the cuts, overtime work would be reduced.
“Extra patrols, investigative overtime, training overtime, major events overtime, and the like, that will all be … part of the reductions,” King said. “That means that we still provide the service, but it might lessen the ability to do enhanced [work] in any of those areas I just identified.”
The Police Department would also delay equipment upgrades and purchases in order to reduce the budget.
Fire Chief Jason Gilliland presented a reduced budget to the Select Board that totaled around $5.2 million. The cost of salaries takes up approximately $4 million of that number.
“The Fire Department also stepped up in a big way in regard to reductions to get to a balanced budget with no override,” Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer said.
The reduced budget for the Fire Department has $216,480 in cuts. Gilliland did not fill three open positions last year, so he cut the staff by three firefighters. He said that no layoffs were made, rather the positions were just never filled.
The Highway Department, Tree Department and Drain Department, collectively referred to as the Department of Public Works, had a total reduced services budget of around $1.8 million. The cost of salaries in that budget was $1.5 million.
According to Kezer, around $74,000 in cuts were made for this budget.
“The DPW is a disaster response agency, and then it has a heavy emphasis on townwide maintenance,” Director of Public Works Amy McHugh said.
To make the cuts, one heavy equipment operator will be cut.
“When you take that heavy equipment operator [out], that means when you look at the work we want to do, if we have a pavement group out, a sidewalk group out, a stormwater group out, a tree group out, that means one of those groups is not functioning because they’re short,” McHugh said.
The Select Board’s total reduced services budget is $770,445, with salaries coming in at $642,180.
The Engineering Department’s reduced services budget is around $204,000, with $193,685 for salaries.
Other budgets and expenses voted on were for the Finance Department, Council on Aging, Harbors and Water Department, Building Inspection Department, Public Buildings Department, parking clerk, animal inspector, veterans’ agent, Memorial Day expenses, and other public employee benefits.