TICONDEROGA - The Ticonderoga Police Department will just have to make do.
Despite pleas the department is short-staffed, the Ticonderoga town board approved only a part-time hire at its March 12 meeting.
Normally an eight-member department, the Ti PD now has six full-time officers with four part-time officers available to fill in.
Trustee Steve Whitford, a retired Ti policeman, had hoped the town board would hire Mark Belden as a full-time patrolman.
Instead, Supervisor Bob Dedrick and councilors Wayne Taylor, Dorcey Crammond and Bob Thatcher voted to hire Belden on a part-time basis with hopes money from the recently-approval federal economic stimulus package may allow him to become full-time in the future.
By hiring a patrolman part-time instead of full-time, the town will save about $23,500 during the remainder of 2009, Taylor said.
"This is a very difficult decision," Dedrick said. "These are the kinds of decisions that are happening throughout our country in the present economy."
The entire town board expressed support for the Ti PD, whose members have voiced concerns about safety and burn out because of the manpower shortage.
"Do they deserve more help? Yes," Crammond said of the police department. "Right now we just don't have the money. We have to do the best we can."
Taylor, chairman of the town public safety committee, said the community remains committed to its police department. He noted Ti officers, who start at $18.46 an hour, are scheduled to receive pay raises ranging from 4.6 to 5.8 percent next year.
"We are in complete and total support of our police department," Taylor said. "There is no effort under way to cut anything; we want to support, equip and train our department as best as possible. We are constantly working to improve our department and to positively support our employees and encourage them."