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Police Chief Henry B. Newman declined to press for more officers Wednesday, as the Common Council held a work session on the 1999 city budget.

The spending requests from department heads total $24,669,132. That would be an increase of $2,657,531, or 12.1 percent, from the 1998 budget of $22,011,601. No revenue estimates have been made yet.

The Council has nine more budget work sessions scheduled to whittle the requests down, and a public hearing Sept. 23, before adopting the budget Oct. 7.

Newman, one of four department heads to appear Wednesday, did not include any request for more manpower in his spending request.

When asked about it by the Council, Newman said, "I can't say I don't want more policemen. Can we function with what we have now? Yes. We are doing it."

Newman's spending request, including school crossing guards, STOP-DWI and clerical, totaled $3,528,289, an increase from this year's budgeted figure of $3,069,148.

Most of the increase is in personnel costs. Newman said he assumed a 3.5 percent pay raise for officers. The city's contract with the police union expires Dec. 31, and a new one has not been negotiated.

The police force currently has 53 members, including Newman. Two officers are expected to retire in 1999, and they will be replaced with rookies, the chief said.

No pay raise is planned for the part-time crossing guards, who earn $6.25 an hour.

Also presenting his spending request was Building Maintenance Director Roland L. Robison, who wants to raise spending in his department from $269,998 to $298,247. Most of that is accounted for by a request for a new $20,000 pickup truck with snowplow.

Robison, who has been with the city for 23 years, said he is considering taking early retirement at the end of the year and staying on as a consultant. Mullaney and Civil Service Commissioner secretary Janice Dempsey also presented their departmental budgets, which are barely changed from the current year.

Also Wednesday:

Alderman Jacob S. Michaels, D-4th Ward, who has missed several recent meetings, said he would try to attend as many as he could despite his job at Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems, which is sending him on frequent weeklong trips to a plant in Moraine, Ohio.

Alderman Gregory M. Wik, R-8th Ward, proposed allowing users to reserve park shelters by paying a fee. Currently, the city does not take reservations.

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