Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio is proposing the town lease three police cruisers at $67,000 per year, and buy them for $1 each at the end of the three-year lease, to upgrade the town’s aging cruiser fleet.
Saloio suggested the town lease the three vehicles now, not spend anything on cruisers for the next two years, and then add three more by lease in FY2024, giving the town six fairly new cruisers. He’d like the town to consider hybrid SUVs, which have been tested by major city police departments, and would save the town thousands of gallons of fuel.
Saloio’s proposal came during a budget presentation Tuesday night before the board of selectmen. Selectman Jeff Kristal was absent.
Selectman Jim Rogers suggested the possibility of purchasing two cruisers per year instead, in which case, Saloio said, it might make more sense to buy the vehicles outright.
Selectmen took no action during the budget session, which included detailed reports by Saloio, Fire Chief John Schilling, and EMS coordinator Tracey Jones.
Each of the department heads offered selectmen updates on their proposed budgets, highlighting key changes. Schilling’s budget will be his last as fire chief, as he’s announced his retirement at the end of June. Consequently, the fire department’s salary budget will go down because he’s at step 10, he said. A new chief will start at step 1. (Discussion of a search for Schilling’s replacement was originally on the agenda, but town administrator Jay Grande removed it until he can meet with Schilling privately.)
Both Saloio and Jones went into detail on how they intend to tackle their departments’ overtime budgets. In both cases, it involves hiring new employees. Jones is proposing to add two EMT positions, with those employees eligible for benefits, while Saloio is just looking to bring the department up to its full slate of officers, and reduce the number of shifts filled by officers on overtime.
Jones said she’s been covering shifts using EMTs on OT. “It’s not sustainable,” she said. Her overall budget will increase by $30,000, but most of that is attributable to negotiated salary increases, she said.
A proposal by Schilling to replace the fire department’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on a five-year financing plan received some questions. The overall price is $125,000 to replace the tanks, the masks and the compressor, he said. The company is willing to finance the replacement equipment at $25,000 per year, and Schilling called it a creative solution to a big-ticket item.
“I have a concern we’ll be able to replicate this vote for five years in a row,” Melinda Loberg, chair of the board of selectmen, said.
Saloio is looking at a similar method to replace his department’s Tasers.
Selectmen, at a previous meeting, removed a proposed town meeting article from Schilling and Saloio to pay $13,000 for portable lighting like that used during Beach Road Weekend. The chiefs asked for two — one remains, using embarkation funds, but the other is something the town may ask Beach Road Weekend promoter Adam Epstein to fund.
Loberg suggested mobile lighting would be a good thing to collaborate on with other towns, like Oak Bluffs for Illumination Night or Edgartown for the fireworks. “It’s a great shared commodity,” she said. “Maybe this is the kind of thing that towns could contribute to.”
There was frustration expressed by Schilling about the lack of cleaning services and basic maintenance for the town’s Emergency Services Facility. The town hasn’t been able to find a vendor, for example, to properly care for the station’s floors. He also warned the department will likely be over-budget on its use of propane after being home to the cafeteria for Tisbury School students for the first four months of the school year.
“I hate to see that building deteriorate due to lack of maintenance,” selectman Jim Rogers, a retired member of the fire department, said.
Schilling said fire department employees end up bringing cleaning supplies from home to keep the place livable, and that’s why he’s added supplies and cleaning back into the budget. “It’s the only building people live in 24/7, 365. Men and women live in this building, and it’s their home, and to not be able to keep it clean, to not have the resources we need to keep it clean,” Schilling said, pausing. “Part of their daily chores and their daily responsibilities is actually cleaning the area where they stay, but nothing is being left for us to work with as far as that goes, and we have people bringing in cleaning products and paper goods from home, because for some reason the town is no longer supplying them for us.”
Schilling was particularly excited about a proposed town meeting article to spend $10,000 on new technology to clean up environmental spills. The system developed on the Cape uses a foam substance instead of absorbent cloths and booms, picking up 25 to 30 times its weight, he said. “In spirit of Plastic Free MV, they are an exciting product,” he said.
In other news, the town might have a temporary replacement for its harbor patrol boat, which was a total loss after it sank Oct. 3. The Massachusetts Environmental Police have a 25-foot vessel that’s in storage in Weymouth, town administrator Jay Grande said.
“Indications are we may be fortunate to secure it as a loan,” Grande said. Asked after the meeting how much it would cost the town, Grande said he didn’t have a figure.
Schilling has seen it. “Boat’s in solid, solid shape,” he said.
Saloio hasn’t seen it, but noted that it’s indicative of the boat’s condition that the Environmental Police are not making it surplus, but instead are only offering it temporarily.
Grande credited harbormaster John Crocker, who wasn’t at the meeting, with finding the possible loaner.
Selectmen also approved a new three-year contract with Bruno’s for the town’s curbside pickup.
Joshua Forend, general manager for Bruno’s, told the board the price per barrel would increase to $6.05 for regular stickers and $3.80 for seniors.
“We’re the only ones on the Island who still do it,” Forend said of curbside pickup.
In answer to a question from Loberg about seasonal residents, Forend said many of them contract with Bruno’s privately.
The contract was approved pending the town attorney’s final review, and will go into effect Feb. 1.