Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed a recommendation from the Finance Committee on several high-dollar purchases using $1.4 million of the city’s reserves during the October work session and then approved a resolution to purchase radios for police and fire during the meeting that followed. The motion passed unanimously.
Chair of Finance Bob Bellamy said that planning would be using reserves listed in the June 30, 2020 audit updated by Director of Finance Bridget Anderson.
“When we looked at the budget there were things that each department needed. We decided to wait until September to see how the budget audited out,” Bellamy said.
These purchases are what city leaders feel can be comfortably used, leaving $5-6 million which is what the state recommends holding as a rainy-day reserve.
Items discussed were a knuckle boom truck for public works ($200,000), an addition of $265,000 in paving projects, $40,000 for an additional finance department employee, 5% across the board raises for all city employees, $110,000 to the Rec Center for a series of items and $524,010 to purchase new radios for the police and fire departments.
The Rec Center money will go to maintenance needs at the complex, not for new vehicles or tractors, Vice Mayor Mark Messick clarified.
“I was kinda passionate about these radios because the radios that we have now are capable of working now... They’re a couple of steps above junk. They’re not junk, but they’re getting close,” he said.
The new radios are projected to provide better communications within large structures, compatibility with multiple state and regional departments and will provide the city an alternative to purchasing a relay device that the two school additions will require.
Of chief concern to Bellamy is that the current radio system is such that a firefighter in certain buildings cannot radio outside if he needs help.
“That is not acceptable. The police department needs to be able to talk to the jurisdiction they are going into (in the event of a pursuit),” he said.
He said that in the event of a major disaster, the new radios would provide a network for statewide relief workers. “One of the key things of public safety is communications,” Bellamy said.
The resolution to purchase the radios is contingent on the county purchasing a system too. The contingency is included because the price is based on the larger purchase of the three districts. Each will make independent radio purchases.
The $1.4 million will be added to a budget amendment to be addressed at the November BOMA meeting.