The Wayland Finance Committee spent a couple of meetings weighing the decision, but ultimately decided that the Wayland Fire Department could wait to hire a new firefighter.
"We thought the chief made a very compelling argument for it," FinCom Chair Bill Steinberg told Patch. "We don't have a problem with it in general; we were just trying to limit new items overall this year."
Steinberg went on to explain that he got the sense the FinCom would be more apt to recommend the position if Fire Chief Vinnie Smith presents it again next budget cycle.
Smith told Patch he was disappointed by the FinCom decision to not approve his $69,000 request, but would make do.
“We’ve gone with this number of people for 42 years, another year won’t make a huge difference," Smith said, adding that additional inspections and other duties at Wayland Town Center have created new burdens for the department. "It’s just one of those things that I have to account for a smaller daytime staff here."
The FinCom did vote to recommend $62,500 for a new Wayland police officer, as requested by Police Chief Robert Irving, but stressed that they wanted to see a decrease in overtime funding once that new officer came on-board -- which will likely be late 2014 given the Civil Service System timeframe and training.
Both Irving and Smith in making their requests cited various reports demonstrating that Wayland's police and fire personnel numbers are below state averages and those of peer towns. In addition, both chiefs said that the opening of Wayland Town Center put additional strain on their already strained departments.
The FinCom acknowledged that the Wayland Police Department gave up an officer in 2004, supposedly temporarily, in order to cut expenses. At the time, the department anticipated regaining that officer after three years, but that never happened.
The Wayland Fire Department request, however, was new. In fact, the department has not added a roster slot in more than four decades even though the number of calls to which it responds has increased by more than 600 percent since 1970, according to Smith.
"I'll be back next year," Smith said. "I believe that the best thing for the Town of Wayland to do is add one full-time person here. I just think that we need more help during the day."
On Wednesday, the Finance Committee will present its draft proposed FY14 budget at 8 p.m. in the Large Hearing Room at the Wayland Town Building. During that hearing, residents will have the opportunity to ask questions of FinCom members about the proposed budget.