EASTHAMPTON — At its May 15 meeting, the Easthampton City Council approved a wide range of supplemental appropriations, many for the Police and Fire departments.

The City Council approved $197,050 in funding for the Easthampton Fire Department’s personnel services, overtime, uniforms and equipment. Chief Christopher Norris explained that overtime costs generally come from unexpected absences such as injuries or family medical leave. Council President Homar Gomez noted that the department’s overtime costs keep trending lower and he’s appreciative of the work the chief does to manage those costs.

The council also approved $60,500 in ambulance overtime, supplies and tech services with Norris explaining that many supply costs continue to increase.

For the Easthampton Police Department, the council voted for $314,980 in funding for personnel services and expenses, which included payouts of benefits for personnel who left the department and expenses for new officer hires. Some costs also came from contractual increases after a new contract was negotiated.

The Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Department received $115,000 in supplemental appropriations to fund two new Ford F-150 hybrid trucks. These will replace one truck that was taken off the road five months ago due to safety concerns and another truck that is in bad shape and needs to come off the road, according to Parks and Recreation Director John Mason.

The night’s appropriations also provided funding for several budget items whose FY24 costs came in higher than anticipated. Among them were $45,000 in Medicare costs, $7,000 for city and school department payroll processing and $17,000 in increased school liability premiums because of the new elementary school.

This year, as it has done for the last several years, the city council was able to move funds to the tax rate stabilization fund to keep the taxes to Easthampton residents lower. The council approved $600,000 from free cash for this venture.

In addition, the council approved $100,000 in funding to move forward with beginning plans to look at the reconstruction of the area around Parson and Ferry streets. These funds will go toward legal and survey fees as the city starts to assess ways to make the area safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Before wrapping up, the council voiced its unanimous support for the city library’s grant application for state funding and sent many other supplemental appropriations to the finance subcommittee for its review. The council expects to host public hearings on those new appropriations at its June 5 meeting.

Tina Lesniak
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