Middletown plans to spend more than $22 million on public safety in 2018, which is a more than 5 percent increase over 2017 spending levels.
Public safety accounts for 69.3 percent — or just more than two-thirds — of the city’s nearly $32.2 million general fund budget proposed for 2018. Overall, the city’s proposed 2018 budget is up just more than $2.2 million, or 7.4 percent.
“We’re going to put our money where the crime is occurring,” City Manager Doug Adkins said.
That means the city’s criminal investigations section will go from 20 to 13 officers as seven detectives will move to an expanded narcotics section. The narcotics sectionwill focus on deterring the opioid crisis.
The Division of Fire is slated for $10.1 million, up 7.9 percent over 2017. The proposed budget includes a $937,537 federal SAFER Grant for firefighters, which represents a full year of the funding, and a $337,690 federal grant to purchase new breathing apparatuses for firefighters.
Retirements and a federal SAFER grant will enable fire operations to grow from 60 to 72 firefighters. The fire division will move three more staff to fire inspections/prevention to help enforce the city’s chronic nuisance ordinance and other fire inspections.
In 2018, the Division of Fire will also start implementing its strategic plan which is nearing completion. It will also be looking at future new station locations.
Adkins said savings could be realized through a reduction of calls for service once a new Use of Address Management Software System is implemented for police, fire and EMS.
Vice Mayor Dora Bronston was one of the council members who said there should be a higher priority for public safety, noting the city’s crime and drug issues.
The rest of the city’s non-public safety General Fund budget will be presented at council’s Oct. 17 meeting. Adkins said council will receive budget legislation at its first meeting in November so it can be considered for approval before Dec. 31.