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Letter: School Security & Police Officers Topic of Town Meeting

Also on the agenda of the town meeting is the acceptance of Costa Lane as a town road and police overtime.

 

To the Editor:

A Special Town Meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 to accept Costa Lane as a Town Road and to approve spending a total of $891,000 for 11 individual items related to police overtime, two new police officers, K-8 school building security upgrades and other K-8 school capital requests. The complete detailed notice of this meeting is on the Town’s website at: http://www.townofreddingct.org/Public_Documents/ReddingCT_TownMeetingAgenda/I03CDA819.

If voters at the meeting approve all the recommended spending:

  • (a) $222,000 (for police overtime and two additional police officers through June 2013 and an RES outdoor lighting upgrade) would come from the Town’s Unassigned Fund Balance ($6,439,000 on June 30, 2012)
  • (b) $135,000 for school building security upgrades would come from the Town’s Reserve for Capital Non-Recurring Expenditures ($1,170,531 on June 30, 2012) and
  • (c) $534,000 (6 school capital projects planned for completion before the 2013-14 school year) would be funded by short-term borrowing pending long-term financing.

Our traditional New England Town Meeting form of democracy gives citizens the opportunity to participate directly in governing our Town. With this valued right come substantial responsibilities:

  • (a) to understand completely the costs and benefits of each proposed matter
  • (b) to decide whether each proposed action is in the best interest of the Town
  • (c) to attend the Town Meeting and vote for or against each matter.

Embedded in “school security” items 2 and 3 are longer term questions. Should we increase Redding’s police force from its current level of 15 to 17 full-time officers at an estimated annual cost of nearly $175,000 for 2 officers (not including the cost of additional police vehicles)? Why 2, not 1? Should one of them be a dedicated, armed K-8 school resource officer assigned to RES and JRMS during the school year (180 days of a 240-day working year)?

You can obtain more information about these items at: http://hamlethub.com/redding-politics/redding-local-politics/26370-please-attend-town-meeting-on-feb-13-funding-issues, http://www.thereddingpilot.com/8051/school-capital-requests-head-to-meeting, by contacting members of the Redding Board of Education (see Content, Redding Board Members, on : http://www.er9.org/pages/Easton_Redding_Region_9/Board_of_Education/Redding_Board_of_Education , and by attending this Town Meeting.

After you understand the issues, it’s up to you to decide whether the potential benefits of these proposals justify their additional costs. This is your opportunity to represent yourself in deciding these taxing and financing questions! I encourage you to participate actively and constructively in our Town Meeting if you can.

P.S. (If 200 or more citizens eligible to vote in the Town Meeting petition the Town Clerk in writing at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, they can request that any item or items on the call of the meeting be submitted to a referendum rather than voted at the Town Meeting; a referendum incurs additional costs to the Town. The vote on any item on the call of the meeting shall be taken by paper ballot if so voted at the meeting. Unfortunately it is not possible to vote at a Town Meeting by absentee ballot. Connecticut Statutes concerning town meetings are in Title 7, Chapter 90, Sections 7-1 through 7-9d.)

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