Norwalk tax board not looking for cuts anymore; police will likely get vehicles

Board of Estimate and Taxation members Jim Clark, Greg Burnett and Mayor Harry Rilling discuss the 2014-15 operating budget Wednesday in City Hall.

Updated, 3:46 p.m., financial figures

NORWALK, Conn. – The mood has changed to a sigh of relief at Norwalk’s Board of Estimate and Taxation, where the need to cut $500,000 from next year’s operating budget has been replaced with an apparent $500,000 worth of breathing room.

It now appears that the 2014-15 operating budget will come in $514,000 under the cap set by the Common Council, Finance Director Thomas Hamilton and Director of Management and Budgets Bob Barron said Wednesday. That is due to the expected $500,000 surplus in this year’s Board of Education budget, a $513,000 reduction in expenses for city health benefits and an additional $110,000 expected in state revenue, minus additions to the budget that were made during the BET’s Wednesday’s meeting, Hamilton said.

Among other things, this means the Norwalk Police Department will get all of the new vehicles it requested, BET Chairman Jim Clark said.

“We were in a landscape that is very different from what we have now, even from just a week ago,” Clark said. “… We were asking the chief ‘Would you rather have cars or no school resource officer?’ We were asking very hard questions. We don’t even like asking those questions because they are providing important services to the public. Now that we have a little more breathing room, and I will ask others to weigh in, I have no problem with honoring that request.”

Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik has requested eight new SUV’s and two used vehicles to be used by detectives, an expense of $264,300. Clark said he wanted a forecast of needed vehicle replacements over the next five years. Barron said he had drafted a schedule, not approved by Kulhawik yet, that would in six years reduce the number of years the department would keep vehicles from the current five year life expectancy to four years. Mayor Harry Rilling said keeping a police vehicle for five years reaches a point of diminishing returns, as $15,000 is spent on repairs in the last year of service. “It would be more reasonable to auction them when they still have value,” he said. SUV’s are desired because they are higher and have 4-wheel drive, he said. The other option is a Ford Taurus, which is smaller than the Crown Victorias used to be, he said.

“The all-wheel drive version of the Taurus is relatively expensive,” he said. Norwalk Police have lost a couple of vehicles due to water getting into the engines when they were driven through a flood. “This gives us a higher vehicle,” he said. “It gains access to more places, plus it’s much better in the snow.”

He also said police have a policy of giving a new vehicle easier usage for a year by assigning to a ranking officer. “You try to take the newer cars and put them into a function where they don’t get driven that much in the first year,” he said. “… This way you guarantee one year of easy driving up front.”


11 responses to “Norwalk tax board not looking for cuts anymore; police will likely get vehicles”

  1. anon

    did the Mayor’s environmental task force look into fuel saving vehicles? SUV’s are huge gas guzzlers. What do other northeastern cities use for police cars?

  2. Just waiting for Rilling to give NEON all the money that they demand….
    Wait for it…. the shoe will drop soon.
    Rilling knows NEON will be demanding all the money they “feel” they are entitled to getting since Moccia did the right move and NOT give the thieving bunch one red cent.
    But Rilling will be paying back for all the votes…
    Just waiting……

  3. spanner

    This is good news,first step in recovery of a city that needs police protetection.Now lets them shrapen the pencils for the fire dept budget.Makes no sense to just give money away now because of good news.

    There should still be a line by line telescope used to go over all requests,the type of cars and what else is needed are still issues.

    Recently we heard about defibs and such in te schools and what the city needs,the police dept contnues to be the first starting cpr in most cases on residents lets give them what they need.Its not fair to the community to assume the response we expect from our responders are adequate unless the police have what they need.Taking the word of those not in the field has proven unwise over the years for us and those officers on the line.

    Rowyaton should sit up and take notice the last major response involving cpr was a great effort but it didn’t turn out well.Equipment and time played a large role in that particular call again we have the professionals and if we lack a line item thats tragic.

    Still seeking the breakdown of Hospital overime and meals the police dept picks up and delivers you would think a contract like that they could free up a cruiser 3 hours in three shifts a day and have them delivered.Most police officers don’t sign up to be a caterer i’m sure.

    He also said police have a policy of giving a new vehicle easier usage for a year by assigning to a ranking officer,,,thats absurd top ranking officers are there because they are like a dog on a meat truck the will pursue,and also the ones who are all over the city in a heartbeat to oversee everything on their shift.

    I still don’t see Morris,Perone and Fluff getting state aid for all of those times Norwalks vehicles are on 95 Merritt and all the State run properties in Norwalk like the group homes NCC and the registry also incuding RR bridgestrikes and the train stations.Other cities are compensated thru their reps work in the Sate and Federal offices in some way.Something is better than nothing.

  4. Seattle

    @Spanner. So tell us o’wise one, what should be taken out of the fire departments budget? Your line about listening to those not in the field I agree with. Lets see in the near future if you feel that way or if you flip-flop.

  5. spanner

    @Seatlle the fire dept needs to also consolidate,its not what should be taken out its what should be added in to make Norwalks coverage better not more expensive.Its starting to sound like the police dept, add more expensive officers and eliminate productive ranks.Plenty of chiefs and not enough Indians.

    Plenty of vets coming home out of work I doubt if the NCC course will change the climate considering the leadership.Rowyaton firefighters have gone to NCC and still do nothing wrong with that.Norwalk fire dept could generate much more back to the city that whats going on right now,thats been agreed on.

    Qualified experts in the field prevents flip flops when hearing from rank and file that have no financial motives. Fire science is cutting edge,education is not just for saving lives its for keeping those safe who are saving the lives.I’m all for education.

    Norwalk fire at one time had the highest paid firefighters in the State.Highest paid city employee list coming out next should indicate if that is still true but thats not for a while correct?

    Tank trucks are used in a lot of cities and towns in Ct,whats Norwalk have only one?

  6. Seattle

    Spanner, could you say that again. No offense, but I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. Anybody who doesn’t apply for a job in this economy because of “the leadership” is a fool looking to make excuses. Probably not the type of people the citizens want working for them. What are your ideas for consolidating the fire department? You wanted an ambulance, we know that’s against Conn OEMS, so what other ideas do you have that are actually doable? You mention too many chiefs and not enough Indians. I believe each piece of apparatus has 1 officer. Are you saying that nobody should be in charge? Who’s responsible if somebody gets hurt or worse? Sounds like you want to open the city up too some lawsuits. I’m no finance specialist but that sounds like a pretty bad idea.
    What’s a tank truck? Who has them? Please provide us with some facts as too what they are; who has them; why do we need more than 1; how much does it cost?

  7. spanner

    The laundry list is a good one,saving money on fuel would be the first nut to crack,between the fire and police boats.What kind of money are we talking combined $75,000 dollars just for fuel for the combined 5 boats?

    The other question is how is fuel purchsed a tank at a time?Thats gets expensive if your a large fuel user on the water.

    Consolidating all fuel would only be a good suggestion if we had the combined totals of all the departments or is that a liability if one dept uses anothers pumps?

    Hiring a qualified vet I thought was some cities priorities,I thought it was leadership picking the candidate,and for the amount of money Norwalk pays only a fool wouldn’t apply.

    Ambulances you seem to have the answer ,it makes sense not to have one you have convinced me its ok for a fireman to drive and another to work in the back of the same ambulance at the same time but not to run one from the station and bill for the city.The law must make sense.

    The tank truck was a big deal when water wasn’t so abundant in areas of Norwalk.One was donated and then it was worked on and now its vanished someone just wrote me and said,so I figure ask if we have one.

    Tankers,I guess if CT has what they call tanker brigades and tanker task forces there must be more than a handful.Where are they used well thats good question anywhere there is a fire. Truck fires on highways where drafting and hydrants are not possible to places in Norwalk they say have poor supplies.

    Bad ideas when your not a finance specialist is not good I agree ,even worse if you don’t know the lay of the land .

  8. spanner

    I’m sorry this one was a good question,

    Who’s responsible if somebody gets hurt or worse.

    McCarthy is the chief,and for the ones who have been hurt and out many months with injuries already under McCarthy’s direction including some those officers in charge in the last few years shows you have no idea what has gone on.I was surprised to learn over the years of the injuries to Norwalk firefighters that were kept from the taxpayers.

    I’m not upset by the questions if you had known of the injuries and other equipment shortfalls you would of never of asked the way you did.

    One injury alone kept a firefighter out for almost a year and it sounded like it cost the city money.

    The mere fact the Norwalk firefighters union spoke out with a no confidence vote and listed safety as one of the concerns was certainly a milestone for the Norwalk fire dept. I’ve never seen that done anywhere else with a fire chief.

    I base a lot of what I write on history, fact and common sense.Some of this stuff you just can’t make up.

  9. Seattle

    So you’re saying McCarthy was the first chief with a no-confidence vote from the fire union? Maybe you weren’t around for Chief Verda’s no confidence vote? He wasn’t the only one. Might want to go back and check your sources. What safety issues are you referring to?
    Why would Norwalk hospital pay to have the ambiance at the Firehouse when they run it out if the hospital? They would lose money, and it’s a business, no? As far as your tank trucks, does Norwalk really need to spend all that money on a truck that might be used every 5-10 years? When was the last time the fire dept had to call in one of these tank trucks for an actual fire? Isn’t that what mutual aid is for? Doesn’t sound like wise spending to me. As far as hiring vets, the city should. However, you need to talk to Rilling about getting them extra credit on the tests as its based on scoring. Maybe talk to the fire dept recruitment officer. I’m sure he’d be willing to help.

  10. spanner

    Sounds like Seattle your ok with poor leadership and questionable ambulance service.

    You sound like pro profit hospital ambulance service and I’m pro patient care and response.

    Your take on the tanker was sad,examples I didn’t give for someone versed as yourself shows maybe your upset over a possible change in the fire and ambulance service.I was asked about the tankers if you recall what was written.

    Private ambulance services in Ct are very good I’m for that also,Bridgeport and Stamford have great prototypes working that involves firefighters at every level and assures quick response and professional patient care.Interaction from firefighters and private ambulance companies provides professional levels of care for both Hospitals and patients just like its suppose to be for Norwalk Hospital.

    Every five or ten years for tankers? Norwalk could of used a tanker night before last you figure it out.

    Mutual aid is used mostly for ambulances Norwalk Hospital seems ill equipped and stretched thin to be effective most of the time.

  11. Seattle

    Spanner as I’m sure you know, as you seem to know a lot about everything, cities and towns are mot allowed to decide who their ambulance provider will be. They are not allowed to shop around as you suggest. I’m sure you know that, right? Ask Conn OEMS. Better yet, ask your state rep as there are some who are trying to change this law up in Hartford. (I’m sure you knew about this). The city of Norwalk needs a $650k fire boat a lot more than a $650k tanker. Unless 1 call every 10 years is justification for a piece of equipment that surrounding depts have and will be happy to respond with as “mutual aid.” Please give us relevant and useful ideas. You’re starting to lose us with all your misinformation..

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