NORTH TONAWANDA – Members of the Common Council said Tuesday they would consider adding a $62,000 police officer to the public safety budget, which was trimmed back in the mayor’s proposed $35 million spending plan for next year.
Police Chief Randy Szukala, who spoke at a budget meeting, was pleased.
“There’s enough work to go around, and he’s going to benefit the city,” said Szukala of the potential new officer.
Szukala had requested four new officers, and the mayor’s budget plan included none.
Council President Richard Andres and Alderman Nancy Donovan expressed interest in adding one officer as a compromise as the council continues to go through budget details with departments before the budget is adopted next month.
“Public safety should be our top priority,” Donovan said.
Szukala and Fire Chief John Lapham met with the council to go over budget details after its Tuesday evening meeting.
Lapham, who had two new firefighter positions added to the 26-member force, said he was most concerned about the mayor’s $15,000 cut in replacements for firefighter gear, which is made with special fire-resistant material.
“I have nothing in my closet,” he said. “If somebody [in the volunteer ranks] joins, I have nothing to give them.”
The council will decide on budget adjustments in the weeks ahead. A copy of the budget proposal will be available at City Hall for review starting Oct. 26. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 8. Budget adoption has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council approved an easement agreement with CSX Corp.
The train company controls two tracks the city must cross to build an extension of Meadow Drive, now a dead end, so that the street connects to Erie Avenue.