Letter: Yarmouth spends too much on police

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I’ve been reading Yarmouth’s annual operating budget and one huge item literally jumped off the page and hit me between the eyes. In a lovely town such as Yarmouth (population 3,560 people), where the crime rate is documented to be lower than in all other Maine communities, why do we spend $721,934 annually in salary and wages for police? For a town with practically no crime, why are we spending so much money for so many non-essential officers (12 at last count) to police us? In this day and age of cost-cutting and lean administration, the numbers just don’t add up.

According to the town website, full-time wages for the Yarmouth Police Department increased 8 percent from 2008 to 2009 and 3 percent from 2009 to 2010. Part-Time wags rose 8.5 percent from 2008 to 2009 and 6.4 percent from 2009to 2010.

Many working people in Maine have been tightening their belts these past two years because of economic hardship. Many people have lost jobs or have been forced to take pay cuts. And yet municipal workers in Yarmouth continue to see their income grow. This is not right. Remember how outraged the people in Bell, Calif., were when they found out that their elected officials paid themselves lavish salaries at the expense of the working people? Wake up, Yarmouth. It’s happening here, too. My recommendation: downsize town government, beginning with the most costly department, the Police Department, which accounts for 76 percent of total town expenditures.

Joe Smith