BENNINGTON >> The police chief is requesting the Select Board budget $27,000 for the purchase of "electronic control devices," commonly called Tasers.
The proposal is part of a "special request" separate from the normal budget.
The board will meet this Saturday to begin determining how much the town will spend in the coming fiscal year. Once finalized, the budget will go before voters in March. The meeting, a work session, is scheduled for 8 a.m. in the Bennington Town Office conference room.
According to a written budget presentation, Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette is requesting the department purchase 13 electronic control devices (ECDs). This would equip half of the department's certified officers. Town Manager Stuart Hurd said Wednesday that the current budget draft, if passed as is, would increase the municipal tax rate by about one cent for every $100 of a property's assessed value.
Hurd said the reason the overall municipal tax rate is up only a cent is because the town is saving about $200,000 on healthcare costs. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont offered a new plan on the Vermont Health Exchange this year, which town employees have entered into.
He said there have been a few "glitches" with the switch, but it has saved the town money, at least this year.
The one cent increase is not counting the agencies requesting funds on the ballot, which voters decide upon individually. If they all pass, it will add roughly another cent and a half to the town tax rate.
Driving costs up, Hurd wrote in a budget summary, is liability and worker's compensation insurance. These rates are up across the industry, not just in Bennington.
Fuel costs, however, are low. "This trend is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future," Hurd wrote.