Brewer budget forces police to cut drug-sniffing canines

Posted May 27, 2009, at 8:25 p.m.

BREWER, Maine— Cierra and Mace, the two drug-sniffing dogs who work for the Brewer Police Department, have been given pink slips because of this year’s tight budget.

The choice came down to uniforms, mandated training and equipment, and something had to go, Police Chief Perry Antone told city councilors during Tuesday’s budget hearing.

“We decided the canine program had to be eliminated,” he said.

On Wednesday he added that the dogs last day will be June 30.

Cierra is handled by Cpl. Paul Gauvin and Mace is handled by Officer Amy Nickerson. The program’s budget is between $3,400 and $4,000 annually, Antone said.

“The dogs are owned by the officers, [and] we just won’t be utilizing them here at the department,” Antone said. “We’ll miss them. They’ve been part of us for years, and we don’t want to see them go.”

Zero tolerance of drug possession and drug use is still the policy in Brewer, Antone said.

“They were a tool that assisted us with that,” he said. “We’re still going to be able to do drug work.”

Councilors asked if drug seizure funds, allocated to the city for help in successful prosecution of federal drug cases, could be used to support the program.

“Federal laws prevent us from using those funds to supplement our budget,” Antone said. “They’re very strict.”

The program could be reinstated in future years, if the money becomes available, Antone said.

During the budget hearing, City Manager Steve Bost reported that the water rate would stay the same as last year, but that the sewer rate would be increasing by nearly 5 percent. The increase for the average sewer user is $6.75 per quarter or around $27 more annually, Finance Director Karen Fussell said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, councilors also:

• Approved special amusement licenses for several businesses and organizations planning outdoor summer events.

• Granted Beef’O’Brady’s a license to serve alcohol on an outdoor patio attached to the outer Wilson Street restaurant.

• Repealed the methadone clinic moratorium and enacted new land use code amendments concerning methadone and narcotic treatment facilities.

• Hired John Jones of Winterport to remove the old Sedgeunkedunk Dam for an “amount not to exceed $100,000,” and CES Inc. of Brewer to create a phase II plan for the landfill for $10,000.

nricker@bangordailynews.net

990-8190

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