Overall, the two public safety departments would see their budgets drop from $24.3 million this year to $26.3 million, or 7.5%, next year, Lolli said.
Of the eight recruits to the police department, three would be patrol officers and one in narcotics. Those positions would be paid for from the city’s general fund, Lolli said. The three school resource officers would be funded entirely by the Middletown City School District and the one traffic officer would be funded by the Middletown City Court, according to Lolli.
Lolli said the fire department previously had two fire marshals, but one position was cut in 2014. He said the only fire marshal worked “significant” overtime.
Since Muterspaw and Lolli were hired 30 years ago, the number of firefighters has increased from 92 to 81 and police officers from 93 to 67, they said.
Lolli called it “a personal crisis” in the city.
Low staffing creates more overtime and lower employee morale. The city is losing too many public safety employees to nearby communities, police chief David Birk and Lolli said.
“We have to put on a tourniquet to stop the bleeding,” Lolli told the council.
“It had an impact on officers,” said Birk, who added that his department had three vacancies it was trying to fill. “We are at a breaking point. We definitely need help.
Lolli predicted the general fund balance would grow from $15 million this year to $11 million in 2023. He said the city needs to “balance” the needs for human resources and capital improvements.
It will be up to the city’s economic development department to make up the difference by increasing the tax base, said Lolli, who called it “a lofty goal.”