The Rochester Board of Selectmen voted to appoint a new full-time police officer to the department after the recent departure of a 21-year-veteran on the force. The decision was made at the Board’s regular meeting on Monday, February 4 in Rochester Town Hall.
Adam Brightman has been working as a part-time officer for the station since 2009, and since then, has made a lasting impression on those who know him in town. He graduated from New Bedford High School and went on to pursue a Sociology and Criminal Justice Degree from UMass Dartmouth. He is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree at Boston University.
“He’s always demonstrated a high level of professionalism,” said Selectman Naida Parker. “He would be an asset to the department.”
For the past five months, Brightman has been attending the Police Academy full-time. However, instead of the department paying his tuition, he is self-sponsored, which means he is paying for his own way through the classes. He is due to graduate on February 15.
“It’s a big endeavor to do that,” said Police Chief Paul Magee.
The Board voted unanimously to bring Brightman onto the force full-time. He will begin on February 17 pending successful completion from the Academy.
In other news, the Financial Committee met with the Board briefly for a basic overview of the rough draft for the town’s budget for fiscal year 2014.
“I can assure you that overall, we are in very good financial shape,” said Town Administrator Richard LaCamera.
The town will see in increase in State Aid, albeit a relatively little amount, in the next year. In FY 2013, Rochester received $2.2 million from the state. In 2014, they will receive an additional $18,000.
Funding for the schools is also looking somewhat inconsistent. Old Colony will receive $55,000 less than they did last year while Old Rochester Regional High School will see a whopping increase of $494,000, which is almost a 20% increase from the year before.
“We haven’t seen this kind of increase in State Aid in six years,” said LaCamera.
LaCamera considered the change in formula in determining State Aid to be a factor in why the numbers are so different. As it stands now, a school’s state aid is determined by computing 50% of the town’s wealth and 50% of the town’s property evaluations. LaCamera has requested reports from Superintendent Doug White to see if and where there are any discrepancies.
LaCamera told the Board and Committee that if the numbers hold true in the preliminary budget, he does not foresee any reductions in staff, services or programs at the Town Hall and in the schools.
Furthermore, LaCamera explained that for the second year in a row, health insurance costs for town employees would not be increasing.
“That’s unbelievable,” said Selectman Brad Morse.
An increase in hospital visit co-pays is one reason people are saving money with their health insurance. Having to pay $75 out of pocket is making people think twice about heading to the emergency room.
Also, wellness programs are being promoted throughout town, which LaCamera believes is helping people lead healthier lifestyles.
The renovations to Town Hall will be completed by the end of the week. The final phase will begin on Wednesday when new windows will be delivered for replacement.
The Rochester Board of Selectmen will meet again on Monday, February 25 at 6:30 pm in Rochester Town Hall.
By Katy Fitzpatrick