By Elio Gugliotti, Editor
PROSPECT — After years of trying to share a resident state trooper with another town, Prospect officials have found a partner in Bethany.
The two towns are moving forward with a plan to share a resident state trooper starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Under the resident state trooper program, Connecticut State Police provide troopers for participating towns to help oversee police operations. The program also provides services, such as dispatch and booking, to towns.
The Town Council supported the plan to share a trooper with Bethany during a budget workshop April 28.
“I think it’s time,” council member Theresa Graveline said. “If we can do it, let’s do it.”
The plan comes a year after Bethany and Beacon Falls agreed to share a trooper for three years. Beacon Falls officials have decided to end the agreement starting July 1 and return to a full-time resident state trooper, citing an increase in police overtime to cover shifts when the trooper isn’t in Beacon Falls.
Bethany First Selectman Paula Cofrancesco said after Beacon Falls officials notified her about ending the agreement she contacted Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield. Cofrancesco said sharing a trooper with Beacon Falls has been a good experience for Bethany and she’s looking forward to partnering with Prospect.
Chatfield said he doesn’t expect to have any issues sharing a trooper with Bethany. He said the Prospect Police Department is set up a little different from the Beacon Falls Police Department. The town’s resident state trooper isn’t on regular patrol shifts and the town doesn’t use officers to replace the trooper when he’s not working, he said.
Chatfield said the plan is to share Prospect’s resident state trooper, Timothy Van Deventer.
The towns and the state have to sign an agreement to share a trooper. Officials anticipate everything will be in place by July 1.
Sharing a trooper is projected to cut Prospect’s cost for the program in half to $105,337 for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Overall, the proposed police budget is set to decrease by about $107,000 to roughly $1.01 million.
The council is expected to finish its municipal budget proposal Monday during a workshop.
A virtual hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 12 at 7 p.m. The council will accept comments and questions via email at email@example.com. The public will also be able to call in and ask questions during the hearing. Information on how to call in will be posted with the agenda for the hearing.
The municipal budget doesn’t include school spending for Region 16. The Board of Education has approved a $40.7 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year that keeps overall spending flat but increases Prospect’s net cost by a projected $1.4 million.
The council will have the final say on the municipal budget this year, since the state waived in-person voting requirements due to the coronavirus. The council is scheduled to vote on the budget May 26.
Chatfield is also seeking authorization to bond $900,000 for road improvements and $115,000 for the volunteer fire department’s share of new radios and radio equipment. The other $115,000 for the radios will be funded with money paid to the town for private duty police work, according to Chatfield.
The council is expected to discuss the bonding this week. Chatfield said the first payment on the bond will be due in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Correction: The original version of this story stated the budget proposal stood at about $9.02 million as of last week. The figure was incorrect.