Watertown budget session Saturday sees personnel additions to city departments

Updated: May. 8, 2021 at 5:18 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -It was day 2 of budget talks for Watertown city lawmakers Saturday.

Two of the bigger proposals discussed were personnel additions to both the police and fire departments.

The police department was looking to reinstate the 4 officers it lost last year as well as the addition of a school resource officer, or SRO.

“Right now, it’s a Saturday morning, raining at 9:30, and we have no cars available. I don’t make that up, you know, with the volume of calls that come in, so they’re going non stop all day, every day,” said Captain Michael Labarge of the Watertown Police Department.

Council agreed to bring back 3 officers and the SRO, saving the city $89,000.

Fire Chief Matt Timmerman was also looking to add a deputy fire chief to his department, saying he gives 110% in his role every day, but he feels sometimes it just isn’t good enough.

“And I am not trying to sell myself short here, but I just can’t keep up with the workload that is present,” said Chief Matt Timmerman of the Waterown Fire Department.

However, council felt the proposed salary of $157,000 was too high. So, they came to an agreement to promote a current captain to do more administrative tasks.

The change will still save the city upwards of $140,000.

Also, council decided to allocate more funds to Flower Memorial Library for added security in the wake of the fatal shooting in Watertown last week.

“And as it happened, he wasn’t there for that lockdown and it would been great to have,” said Flower Memorial Library Director Yvonne Reff.

Reff says the library is open 57 hours a week and the lone security guard only works 35, so this money will help to supplement those hours to have someone on duty at all times.

She also will be able to bring back one of her librarians that she lost last year.

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