$7.02 million budget OK; Chief defends costs for 24-hour police coverage.

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Byline: James F. Russell

BROOKFIELD - Voters approved a $7.025 million operating budget for fiscal 2008 - representing a 6.7 percent hike - during a five-hour town meeting Friday. The proceedings were made more notable by the many questions put to Police Chief Ross B. Ackerman, resulting in some testy exchanges.

Chief Ackerman, who is also a member of Brookfield's Advisory Committee, which recommends how much money should be spent on budget lines, had a hard time explaining why funds for the part-time police officers' salary account should be increased by 26.5 percent.

Personnel Board Chairman Philip Peirce labeled the increase "extravagant."

"This is what the Police Department needs," responded Chief Ackerman. "We have had kidnappings and attempted murder."

Chief Ackerman initially requested $129,302 for the part-time salary account. At the annual town meeting Friday, he asked for $124,342. The Advisory Committee recommended $116,666. By a vote of 60-14, town meeting voters appropriated $110,000, a 12 percent hike.

Prior to the vote, the chief, in response to a question from Advisory Committee member Barbara Wilson, said the Police Department would be able to maintain 24-hour coverage, but a school resource officer would be eliminated.

"That is a poor tactic," former Selectman Joseph J. Klimavich said. "The chief is playing with our emotions on that."

Voters decisively rejected Chief Ackerman's request of $73,800 for police expenses, approving $65,000 instead. The Advisory Committee had recommended $74,500. Last year, town meeting approved $54,005 for the expense account.

During discussion of the police expense account, David P. Bourdeau said, "I hope we are not sacrificing public safety and beating up on the Police Department. I am not suggesting that is the case." Mr. Bourdeau owns the ranch-style house on Route 9, in the center of town, used as the police station.

Selectmen released a statement Thursday saying that they have ordered...

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