BETHEL – Taxpayers at town meeting this year will decide whether to step up policing for an extra $18,000 to $20,000 per year.
Town Manager Scott Cole said the proposed budget asks voters to increase police coverage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings by adding a second officer during those shifts.
Chief Alan Carr said that 17 percent of the Police Department calls occur during the weekends. “It is just a busy time, people are getting near the end of the week, and they can get into town more often and shop, and go to the different restaurants.”
The police force has four full-timers including the chief and six reserve officers.
The total proposed budget is more than $2.8 million, up from last year by about 9 percent.
Cole said planned capital costs are driving the increase this year.
Road work that had been deferred is included for about $77,500. And equipment requests have pushed the capital improvement budget to about $284,000, based on selectmen’s recommendations.
“Last year, no road work got done,” Cole said. Selectmen and the budget committee “deferred it to keep it off the taxes.”
The town is asking voters to replace a 1993 truck with a new pickup truck for $35,000, and to buy a hay chopper/grass seeder machine for $8,000. The town garage needs a new lift for $8,500, and the ambulance service is requesting a defibrillator for $15,200.
“We’re confident that the tax rate is going to be anywhere between zero to 4 percent,” Cole said, referring to the increase from last year and which will include the new school and county budgets.
Bethel’s town meeting will be Wednesday, June 14.