Arlington evaluates $44,000 sheriff contract
ARLINGTON — The Arlington Select Board will decide at its next meeting whether to continue the town's contract with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department for police coverage and if it does, what that contract will look like.
Currently the town contracts with the Sheriff's Department for 20 hours of coverage per week at a cost of $44,000 per year according to Town Administrator Nick Zaiac.
The board spent significant time discussing the matter at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday evening after a presentation by BCSD representatives Capt. Andrew Hurley, the department's second in command; as well as Lt. Lloyd Dean and Sgt. Jesse Bravata. They provided a synopsis of the calls for the past year. During that time frame, the BCSD responded to 326 calls, of which 224 were traffic stops. Deputies issued 189 tickets in Arlington with 81 of those resulting in traffic citations and 108 being warnings.
It was pointed out that the current pandemic restricted the deputies work for several months beginning in March before the governor eased restrictions in May.
Board member Matthew Bykowski asked pointed questions about the department's results and several other board members shared they were also concerned about the "return on investment."
The sheriff's officers said they could provide patrol logs that would detail what their deputies had been up to and where.
Bykowski referenced the numbers provided by the agency in the town report.
"I would like to see [the patrol logs], I need to see that," Bykowski said. "I struggle to try to run the return on investment on [town report] numbers."
Bykowski said the report would show him what the town is getting for the money spent.
"We just get a bill without knowing what we're spending the money on," Bykowski said. "It's a dollars and cents thing. I know there's a lot of value in what you guys do. I have an issue with paying a bill and not knowing what I'm paying for."
Board member Cynthia Browning said the deputies are seen around town and she knows they're patrolling, but agreed getting a look at the data would be a good thing.
Board member Todd Wilkins, a Vermont State Police trooper, told the Sheriff's personnel that he had to tell them that he was finding it difficult to ask town taxpayers to continue to pay the money for the BCSD contract.
"There are nine state troopers who live in this community so I'm struggling to find a reason to spend $44,000," Wilkins said. "For me personally, there are nine of us here. I have to justify why we're spending taxpayers' money."
After the Sheriff's Department members left, the board discussion continued.
Board Chair Dan Harvey said they needed to decide what they wanted to do and they could vote on it at the board June 29th meeting.
Browning said that she was most concerned with the safety of the community.
"I don't have a problem with the sheriff's department," Browning said. "As long as we achieve the safety goals."
Bykowski said that seeing the data was key for him, but said he would be more interested in seeing directed patrol in certain areas of town, like the rec park during busy periods, or at the Arlington bridge.
"I see the value of a presence," Bykowski said. "I do see the value of paying for that."
Wilkins gave the board more details about why he believed the nine troopers who live in Arlington actually provided the town a decent amount of police coverage without it costing the town anything additional. Wilkins said that the nature of policing is that when a trooper signs non for duty at their house, they tend to patrol near home first thing, around meal breaks and again toward the end of the troopers shift.
We have enough patrols in the town of Arlington that doesn't cost anything extra," Wilkins said. "We have the most patrolled town in Bennington County. If you drive through this town at 8 in the morning, you're likely to two to four state trooper cars."
The board also settled a resident's past-due water bill as the Select Board recessed its meeting and convened the town Water Commission.
Jim Sears came before the water board to seek assistance with an overdue water bill.
Sears' mother's property at 2912 Route 7A had the water shut off about four years ago. At some point, the house caved in and was demolished.
Despite being shut off, Sears said he paid an access fee for the next 10 quarters before confusion led him to quit paying it. He has not paid the past eight quarterly bills.
The board found that the town code allows for a 50 percent reduction in the bill in exceptional circumstances, which the board found to be the case.
Because he had paid the full amount for more than half of the time, the 50 percent rate left him owing noting, the board decided Tuesday night.
On top of that, they approved Sears' request to turn the water back on without assessing a connection fee.
Contact Darren Marcy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell at 802-681-6534.
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