By Dan Moffett
Ocean Ridge took a $213,000 hit to its budget this year when Briny Breezes decided not to renew a police services contract with the town, choosing instead to sign on with Boynton Beach.
Despite the loss, Ocean Ridge won’t have a problem covering the costs of new police and security equipment that the town has been planning to buy for years.
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb managed to find about $84,000 for capital expenditures by recalibrating money set aside for raises for Ocean Ridge’s 28 employees, he said during the Nov. 7 town meeting.
“To more closely hone the carrying charges for the work force,” Titcomb said he used precise anniversary dates to calculate the total cost of raises, instead of averaging the group.
The tweaking freed up about $84,000 that increased the budget’s contingency fund to roughly $156,000. With that money, the town will spend about $23,000 to install a new telephone and voice-mail system to Town Hall. Another $13,000 will go toward a new video security system for the building. The Town Commission approved $2,500 to pay for covert investigation cameras for police.
Commissioners also signed off on spending about $79,000 for new police radios, the second installment in a two-year project to upgrade communications and allow the department to improve links with other agencies.
Two other items on the police wish list — Tasers for about $26,500 and license plate recognition cameras for perhaps as much as $225,000 — come with complications beyond the price.
Commissioner James Bonfiglio wants a hearing on Tasers to discuss liability issues, and LPR cameras are on hold until the state allows them on A1A or installation sites on private property are found. Bonfiglio also told Chief Hal Hutchins he wants to discuss body cameras for officers.
In other business, police Lt. Richard Jones graduated in November from a three-week leadership program sponsored by the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute in Tallahassee. Jones was one of 20 law enforcement officials from around the state who completed classes on risk management, succession planning, strategic change and policing trends.