|Posted by Anne Siren on September 14, 2012 at 1:50 PM|
Final hearing will be Sept.20
Hillsboro Beach – Commissioners here went into budget discussions this week looking at a proposed police department budget that increases next year’s expenditures by $162,000, a figure some citizens say requires further investigation. Also on the agenda, and added since the budget was prepared in June, is the addition of another sworn officer at a cost of $88,000.
Last month Police Chief Tom Nagy specifically mentioned that additional staffing would put the town’s marine patrol boat in the water more often. This week he said the additional person will allow him to stabilize the schedule and put the ATV on the beach and the marine patrol boat in the water on more nights and weekends. Currently he operates with 14 sworn officers and four civilian dispatchers. Only nine of the officers are trained in the use of the boat and the ATV.
In addition, the chief, said he has to do road patrols. “I need a fulltime officer to make sure the road is covered. When I have to work the road, something is wrong. The major [Maj. Jay Szesnat] and I fill in regularly. The additional man would also provide for dispatch calls to come directly to the station. “We get a ton of calls from the residents,” Nagy said.
But resident Al Shore pointed out to commissioners Tuesday that police services are 48 percent of the proposed $4.8 million 2012-13 budget. Non-operating expenses not included in the current year account for $42,000 of the increase. “This requires a further look, “ Shore, a resident of Opal Towers, said.
Shore placed the cost of the additional police officer at $126,000, but Nagy said the figure is closer to $88,000. The $42,000 he is asking for is to replace equipment that can’t be repaired, a new police car and to initiate phase one of a three-year update of the radio system. By 2015, the system used now will be obsolete, Nagy said. In addition, his numbers for overtime, workman’s compensation, insurance and the pension fund are up.
Bruce Warshaw, a resident of Ocean Club, said before the town hires another police officer, it should pay a consultant to explain the disparity between Hillsboro’s police budget and that of Highland Beach, a town in Palm Beach County with about the same number of people and miles of A1A to patrol. Highland’s police budget is $400,000 less than Hillsboro’s. “Imagine what we could do with $400,000,” Warshaw said. Highland Beach has 14 police officers and some backup personnel. For the second year in a row, it has unfunded an additional sworn officer position.
Former city commissioner Rhea Weiss asked if supervisory personnel could be included in the road patrol schedule and could other cities with marine boats patrol Hillsboro Beach waters? She also asked if the town could save money by outsourcing dispatch.
Renes Males noted that Highland Beach contracts some services.” She questioned the need for a police boat suggesting there could be more effective ways for residents to protect their property.
All three speakers said the police department runs well and keeps the crime rate low and response times short.
The first budget hearing was held last night [Thursday]. As presented by financial consultant Steve Bloom, the general fund for 2012-13 stands at $4.819 million, with a slight reduction in the current 3.8 mills. Budgeted for the current fiscal year was $4.869 million. The addition of the police officer could change the millage, Bloom noted, but that would depend on whether cuts are made somewhere else in the fiscal plan.
Final reading is set for Thursday, Sept. 20, 5 p.m. at town hall.
Town endorses inlet and shoreline sand study
Hillsboro Beach- Commissioners this week committed to spending $51,000 for sand studies of the Boca Raton Inlet and the shoreline between the Boca Raton and Hillsboro inlets. The study will be done in hopes of the Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, will increase the amount of sand Boca has to dredge annually. That sand drifts downward to help fill the eroded beaches in Deerfield.
Consultant Penny Cutt said the DEP may reimburse some of the study costs, perhaps as much as 75 percent.
The study is a preliminary step to what Vice Mayor Claire Schubert is trying to achieve: a beach nourishment collaboration between Hillsboro Beach, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton.
The study will determine how much sand can be pumped into the downward drift to replenish the beaches. “This [collaboration] is really a dream of mine. There will be a lot of steps to get this done. We have taken the first one,” Schubert said.
Cutt said officials in Boca Raton do not see the need for an additional sand study and are using numbers from a study done in 2002 which has determined the amount of material they are required to dredge and put into the littoral drift annually. Cutt said data gathered in the last 10 years could change that figure.
Mayor Dan Dodge said, “This may be the long term solution. Instead of a big project every 10 years from a source that no longer exists, we can [nourish] more frequently. This could stabilize our north end.”
The town completed a $6 million project last year that nourished one and a half miles of the north beach. Sand was taken from a borrow area off of Deerfield Beach. That source is now depleted.
A second phase would be a $24,000 study to evaluate the shoreline between the Boca Inlet and the Hillsboro Inlet. The study has not yet been approved.