NEW FAIRFIELD – At its regular August 9 meeting, the Board of Selectmen voted to recommend a $120,000 appropriation from the Town’s budget surplus to the Board of Finance to fund New Fairfield police officers to act as School Resource Officer (SRO) at the Middle School. Pending approval of the BoF and the Board of Education, they voted to set a Town Meeting for August 23.
The plan, as explained by First Selectman Pat Del Monaco, would be to rotate New Fairfield police officers to act as an SRO during Middle School hours, much as they did at all the schools during the latter part of the previous school year. The amount of the appropriation would cover the cost of overtime for the officers to provide coverage at the Middle School. Ms. Del Monaco noted that one of the recommendations in the school safety audit commissioned by the Board of Education and the School Safety & Security Committee was that the Middle School needs a SRO.
Some members of the public noted during the public comments portion of the meeting that having so much police overtime would wind up being a burden of the force and that so much overtime for a prolonged period of time could drastically decrease an officer’s job performance. Ms. Del Monaco noted that the time to hire and train a police officer dedicated to the Middle School as a SRO would be 9 months to a year and that the need was to have a SRO present in the Middle School by the start of the school year at the end of August. Due to the urgency, Ms. Del Monaco felt this was the best solution.
Selectman Khris Hall stated that she had reservations about relying on police officer overtime to fill a SRO position, saying that doing so was not sustainable over the long term. She said that she would agree to the appropriation, but on the condition that it would be on a trial basis.
Selectman Kim Hanson was uncomfortable with making a recommendation to the BoF and setting a date for a town meeting before the matter was voted on by the Board of Education. He felt that the Board was “usurping” the authority of the BoE by setting a date for a town meeting for something the BoE had not yet requested.
As a result, the Board amended its initial motion to include language that the matter would be contingent on the BoE requesting the appropriation. The final wording of the warning is as follows:
Notice is hereby given to the electors of the Town of New Fairfield and those entitled to vote at Town Meetings that a Town Meeting will be held on August 23, 2018 at 7:00pm in the Community Room @ 33 Route 37 for the following purposes.
1. To consider and act upon an appropriation of $120,000 from the 2017-2018 operating surplus for the funding of an SRO in the New Fairfield Middle School, contingent upon the Board of Education requesting such position.
The motion passed 2 to 1 with Mr. Hanson voting against.
The Board also voted to send to a Town Meeting the sale of the municipal water system to Aquarion Water company for $150,000. the Town has been looking to sell its aging water system to an outside firm for several years. The system has been maintained by volunteers and there has been no contingency in place should the system suffer a catastrophic failure.
The Board approved the following motion by a 2 to 1 margin, with Mr. Hanson voting against:
Notice is hereby given to the electors of the Town of New Fairfield and those entitled to vote at Town Meetings that a Town Meeting will be held on August 20, 2018 at 7:30pm in the Community Room @ 33 Route 37 for the following purposes.
1. To consider and act upon the sale of assets of the municipal water system located at 4 Brush Hill Road to Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut, including associated easement rights and leases related to the sale.
Ms. Del Monaco gave an update on brush removal, saying that all removal should be completed within 6 to 8 days. Crews are currently working on the north and east sides of town.
She also gave an update on the Squantz Pond parking situation, noting that police are continuing with illegal parking enforcement, writing tickets and towing vehicles. She urged residents reporting parking violations to call Town Hall, and not 911.
The Board also approved cash and in-kind donations to the Senior Center totaling $1,350.66. It also decided to recommend that that a donation of a 5 acre parcel of land adjacent to Pootatuck Forest be donated to the Candlewood Valley Regional Land Trust rather than the Town.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thursday, August 23 at 7:30pm in the Community Center.
By Greg Slomba