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City Council wraps ups budget talks

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The Watertown City Council wrapped up budget talks Monday night after agreeing to reduce spending by $37,500 for a pickup truck and plow for the Fire Department.

Fire Chief Dale C. Herman asked for the new pickup to replace a 1989 Chevy that has 48,570 miles on it. The pickup is used mostly to plow snow at the Massey Street fire station, he said, adding that council members denied his request for the vehicle last year.

But council members urged the chief either to continue to use the existing pickup or get CitiBus to let his department borrow its pickup when it snows.

Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said having another vehicle would cause the city to pay more in maintenance and repairs.

“It seems like that every department has to have every toy,” Mr. Smith said.

During Monday’s budget talks, the City Council agreed to purchase a $32,000 prisoner van for the Police Department. Police Chief Joseph J. Goss said the van would cut down on the number of trips his officers make to transport inmates to and from City Court. They also agreed to purchase a vehicle — at about $17,000 — for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Council members decided to go through the budget process in one session so they can focus on hiring a new city manager. Former City Manager Mary M. Corriveau left in April.

Last week, the City Council agreed to cut $30,000 from the city’s capital projects program that would have been used to design improvements for the railroad bridge to Sewall’s Island. The city hopes to someday use the bridge to connect the island with hiking trails.

Council members need to pass the $53.7 million fiscal plan before June 1. The fiscal year begins July 1. The proposed budget includes a 2 percent increase in the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, to about $7.4 million. The projected tax rate is $7.282 — a little less than a penny increase — per $1,000 of assessed value.

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