Presque Isle police seek funds for body cameras

2 weeks ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The rising costs of daily life are leading to some increased budget requests from department heads for the city.

Multiple department heads in Presque Isle explained their budget requests and why they were needed during a City Council budget workshop Wednesday night, with the exception of the Airport, which was moved to the next budget workshop meeting.

All city council members were present for the budget workshop held at City Hall and went through the details of increases that are included in the draft 2024 budget, which will be voted on for approval before the end of this year.

“The cost of everything is going up and sometimes we buy stuff and the shipment is more than the actual item we bought,” said Presque Isle Fire Chief Darrell White.

The Presque Isle Police Department is requesting $33,997 from capital reserve funds for a lease program for new body cameras and taser packages to replace current body cameras that were constantly breaking and were automatically deleting footage when being downloaded.

This is an increase from $11,785 for body cameras and tasers from this year’s capital reserve fund that totals $49,685. The capital reserve funds are used toward future department needs, according to Interim City Manager Lewis Cousins.

“If anybody was to tell me that we would wear something like this I would say they are probably living through a campaign in Afghanistan,”  Chris Hayes, Deputy Chief of Presque Isle Police Department, said about the equipment. “This is modern day policing unfortunately.”

The lease program for the body camera and taser package is to cover the next four years, according to Hayes. The body camera will activate any time a police officer uses a firearm, taser, or touches the camera. Hayes showed city council members this function during a demonstration at the budget workshop.

The cost includes 18 body cameras, tasers, bluetooth devices, and licenses. Also included in the cost is access to a cloud platform called made available through Axon, a public safety technology company.

The Presque Isle Fire Department requested $307,000 from capital reserves, while the city manager recommended $229,500 for the 2024 budget, which is a $500 increase from this year’s budget. The capital reserve budget for 2022 was set at $214,000.

Other items included in the 2024 budget draft were Central Aroostook Humane Society receiving an increase of about $2,500 from $14,075 for this year to $16,539 in the 2024 budget.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — November 15, 2023 — Presque Isle city councilors go over the increased budget items from various department heads during the budget workshop at City Hall on Nov. 15. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

The Downtown Revitalization Committee asked for an increase in the 2024 budget of $9,000 to $22,851 up from $13,851 for this year’s budget with the primary expense being Christmas lights for Main Street that are anticipated to be more expensive, according to Downtown Revitalization board member Matthew McGinley.

Echo Lake saw a decrease of sewer fees from $8,207 in the 2023 budget for Presque Isle Utilities District to $6,695 in the proposed 2024 budget. This is due to one of the camp owners having their camp demolished, according to Economic and Community Development Director Galen Weibley.

Expenses for Echo Lake are equipment repairs and maintenance from $805 so far in 2023 to $1,440 due to the system failing, Weibley said.

Outside requests for the 2024 draft budget included Wintergreen Arts asking for a $4,000 increase from $16,000 in 2023 to $20,000 for the 2024 budget. The budget for 2022 was set at $16,000.

New for outside requests for the 2024 budget is $400 for food pantry Grace Interfaith Food Table, known as GIFT, but the city council voted unanimously to approve that to be increased to $3,000.

It was the first year the food pantry has requested funding from the city and originally asked for $3,000, according to GIFT treasurer Scott Smith.The reason GIFT food pantry is asking the City Council for funding is due to a drop off in individual and business donations in the last year.

Other new outside requests were $3,877 for Aroostook County Action Program, $200 for Aroostook County for Healthy Families, and $100 for Maine Public Radio.

The next city council meeting is set for Dec. 6, additional information on the Presque Isle’s draft budget is available on the city’s website.