Fire officials say that they’re now expecting to run about $30,000 over budget for this fiscal year due to COVID-19-related costs.
The department’s overtime lines “were reduced in the last budget process and we have had a lot of people have to take time off with the COVID crisis,” according to Fire Chief Jack Hennessey.
“People have been out of work for weeks because they have sick family members and they have been asked to isolate,” Hennessey said during the April 14 meeting of the Fire Commission, held via videoconference. “So that has been a very big stress on the overtime budget. Preliminarily right now, I am going to guess that we are going to run a $30,000 deficit at the end of the year and it’s all pretty much because of the overtime expense of having to cover people who are not able to work because of family exposures and family sicknesses.”
As of late Friday, 139 New Canaan people had tested positive for coronavirus disease and 18 had succumbed to the virus, according to the Office of Emergency Management. The New Canaan Fire Department last week instituted a new policy whereby firefighters are wearing surgical masks any time two of people are in the same room at the firehouse or in close proximity to each other on a fire vehicle.
Hennessey said the budget numbers may change as the town works through the next two-plus months to the end of the fiscal year on June 39. Town CFO Lunda Asmani had asked the Fire Department “to run numbers because they are trying to figure out what the additional COVID expenses are going to be, and that is our best guess today,” Hennessey said.
On April 15, New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski reported that the Police Department had spent about 71% of its budget March 31, when it should be just shy of 75% through its spending, “so we have a few percent margin there.”
“We do not expect any problems, even though we are bearing some COVID expenses,” he said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission, held via videoconference. “But the town is going to be taking on those and those at some point [they] will come out of our budget or will be highlighted that way. So there are no real concerns in our budget right now.”