Rye PD Needs More Officers; RFRR Needs More Dollars

On the agenda of the City Council’s Budget Workshop Monday night, were reviews of funding for both the Police Department and the Rye Free Reading Room.

Published November 30, 2012 5:00 AM
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On the agenda of the City Council’s Budget Workshop Monday night, were reviews of funding for both the Police Department and the Rye Free Reading Room.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

On the agenda of the City Council’s Budget Workshop Monday night, were reviews of funding for both the Police Department and the Rye Free Reading Room.

 

Police Commissioner Bill Connors gave a detailed presentation on what his department handles in a given month and how it has dealt with an increasing number of emergencies, burglaries, home invasions, and youth incidents. He noted that calls for service remain about 14,000 per year.

 

For all of 2012, they have been at less than full patrol strength, as three police offers are on restricted duty. The Department technically has 40 employees: the commissioner and two administrators, three lieutenants, 24 officers (down from 26 last year), two parking officers, and eight (now seven) school crossing guards.

 

Connors explained operational needs cannot be covered without overtime, which year-to-date is $570,000. He gave the Council a rundown of where that money has been spent — from covering a sergeant vacancy ($79,552) to The Osborn home invasion ($17,912) to helping out with the Harrison burglary case ($10,141).

 

The Commissioner said that the real cost to not filling the sergeant position is that more tours of duty are run without supervision.

 

As the Police contract is still under negotiation — in arbitration, actually — City Manager Scott Pickup said, “Until we know the price of labor, we can’t budget.”

 

If the City is unable to increase funding to the Rye Free Reading Room next year, Director Kitty Little said that maintaining current hours of operation would be “impossible.” Their fundraising is well below target. “It took a hit because we had to postpone ‘Novel Night’ due to the hurricane, and we will probably have to refund some of the money we already received.”

 

In fact, hours would have to be reduced from 46 to 42 per week. The library would not only remain closed Thursday mornings, but be forced to close Tuesday mornings. “We can’t maintain current hours with flat municipal funding.”

 

Hours are not the only thing that will be impacted, Little noted. “There will be no funding for E-books and we’ll have to cut materials to below 2001 levels.” 

 

Little said that maintaining Saturday hours is a goal, but reference services may not be available at all times during the day because staffing is so tight.

 

While the library’s most recent contract with its union employees is more conservative than the previous one, health care and pension contribution costs are rising at an unsustainable rate.

 

“The budget is pivotal to what we’ll be able to do in 2013,” said Little. She noted all the good things the library managed to do in 2012, including increasing programs and repurposing the second floor reference area. “And after the hurricane, we opened early and stayed late all ten days to give the community a place to connect and keep warm. There wasn’t an open seat in the building.”

 

 

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