Selectmen Add Policeman, School Funding to Budget Proposal
Claiming the town manager-submitted budget was too conservative, board members fund additional policeman, schools.
The Wrentham Board of Selectmen worked at its meeting Tuesday night to find ways to fund additional services in the budget.
Town Manager William Ketcham presented a $34.6 million budget to the board, but board members added additional funding for the elementary schools, police department and King Philip district after deeming the budget too conservative.
Board Chairman Joseph Botaish said the town must find a way to provide essential services.
"The budget [Ketcham is] presenting to us is a balanced budget, but we've got to figure something out here," he said. "I said to Mr. Ketcham when I walked in, 'I can't accept ths budget.'"
Police Chief James Anderson said he was dismayed that the budget did not include additional officers for the department.
"If you look at our population and activity, we should have 26 police officers," he said. "We're understaffed — Lt. [William] McGrath and myself are overworked. We can't handle the community at the level it deserves and demands."
Lt. McGrath said he served as the department's sole detective.
"Work isn't getting done when it should get done," he said. "We used to have three detectives and a detective-sergeant; now, it's just me."
The board voted to include an additional police officer in the budget, while removing a new police cruiser.
Selectmen also voted for $10,000 more in funding to the Wrentham Elementary Schools, to allow the schools to provide level services.
School Committee Chairman Edward Goddard said the district would make it work.
"If there are other areas we can sharpen things, we'll do it," he said. "It's a fair number."
The board further decided to restore $76,000 to the King Philip school budget. The funding would bring the cut in KP's budget to two percent.
Selectmen, however, declined to fund the Board of Health further, as they emphasized the importance of keeping some money in reserve.