Northampton Budget Gap Hits Police Department
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — The city of Northampton is facing some tough choices when it comes to the budget and city services.
The new fiscal year doesn’t begin until July but the financial headaches aren’t waiting. They’ve already started as Mayor David Narkewicz wrestles with a projected $2.4 million budget deficit.
Fixed costs are going up and state aid is not keeping pace.
In the school department for example, 23 fulltime positions, mostly teachers, are being cut.
“It’s devastating. It;s classroom positions, it’s aides, it’s art, it’s music, in some cases these are very troubling and devastating cuts,” says Narkewicz.
The budget gap is not only being felt at the school department but the police department is feeling the impact as well, four positions that are vacant here will not be filled according to Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz.
“This is a particularly bad year. I’ve been chief for 19 years and every year it’s do more with less, do more with less,” says Sienkiewicz.
Chief Russell Sienkiewicz has worked the numbers but the $140,000 deficit he faces in the police department means that his downtown officers who mostly patrol bikes or on foot are being moved.
“It’s just an unfortunate sign of the times but it’s our decision we made, we just need to deploy our personnel in the most fluid and mobile, way that means taking those downtown beat officers off the beat and putting them in cruisers,” says Sienkiewicz.
The chief also says that some officers are out with long-term injuries, some on family medical leave, resulting in what he calls a “substantial” reduction in resources for personnel.