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04/18/2024 01:59 PM

Public Safety Personnel Make Strong Presence at East Haven Budget Hearing


East Haven’s public safety officials stood in unison at the Town Council’s public hearing for the proposed 2024-’25 fiscal year budget at the East Haven Senior Center on April 17, asking the town’s legislative body not to make any critical cuts to their departments.

Representatives of public safety services expressed concern before the Town Council about what were rumored to be cuts to the fire and police budgets that would potentially inhibit those departments’ capabilities in protecting the public.

The proposed municipal budget for 2024-‘25 fiscal year stands at a total of $105,185,356 in expenditures, while the public safety portion currently stands at $18,128,018.

Nick Balletto, chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, asked the Town Council not to make any cuts to the police portion of the budget following a “stellar year in solving crime, being effective in the community,” he said.

Balletto inquired about a rumor that a police vehicle was going to be eliminated in the upcoming budget, a move which he said could further inhibit the department’s capabilities after having already lost three cruisers last year.

Balletto asked the Town Council to consider in their final budgeting sessions before adoption “what the chief [Ed Lennon] has done and what the department has done” for the town, given past cuts and overtime shifts with which officers are dealing.

East Haven fire representatives made their voices heard about alleged proposed slashes to the equipment portion of the department’s budget, including life-saving medical supplies. Representatives referred in part to the Board of Finance’s (BOF) March 19 budget workshop meeting minutes regarding a $46,000 cut to the department.

Members of the BOF and the Town Council ensured both public safety officials and The Courier that the $46,000 cut was in fact a “typo” in the meeting minutes.

Assistant Fire Chief Chris Rosa asked the Town Council not to cut the $55,000 from the fire budget which they allocated for medical supplies such as epinephrine and Narcan, which are used to save the life of people experiencing cardiac arrest or opioid overdose. The department was also concerned about cuts to a line item in their budget “we use to pay for public fire protection and repair damaged fire hydrants,” Chief Marcarelli infomred The Courier.

Speaking on behalf of Chief Matt Marcarelli and requests in the fire budget, Rosa said, “The taxpayers can rest assured that what he is asking for it is needed to fulfill our vital public safety role. Any of the public safety professionals standing in the back of the room tonight would attest to that.”

Rosa said the presence of many public safety officials at the hearing was not meant to be intimidating, but was instead a reflection of their commitment to the job and a show of support to Chief Marcarelli and Mayor Joseph Carfora for the support they’ve shown “by providing the tools and equipment needed to do that job.”

Town Council Chairman Joseph Deko assured the fire department that cuts to the department are “not in anybody's directory” and guaranteed their support from both himself and his colleagues on the council.

“There has been no talk in our budget workshops to make any cuts to the fire department, other than a typo, $46,000,” said Deko. “You can rest assured that none of the money that you guys are talking about is being slashed. You have my word.”

The Town Council will hold its special meeting to adopt the proposed budget at the Senior Center on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m.