JAY — Selectpersons voted Monday to apply for a federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant to fund a police officer position.

Voters eliminated a detective position as of July 1 when they approved the Police Department budget on April 25. There is money in the budget to hire a part-time officer to cover for a full-time officer to do investigative work.

The part-time position is part of ongoing negotiations for a new police contract.

The 2017-18 police budget was reduced because the town had to pay Verso Androscoggin LLC $1.33 million, the second of three payments, to satisfy a $4 million settlement of a three-year tax dispute.

The Department of Justice grant would cover 75 percent of an officer position over a three-year grant period up to $125,000, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said.

“The town must commit to retaining its full force for throughout the grant period plus one year,” she said.

It would be a total of four years, with Jay picking up 25 percent of the position costs for three years, and the full cost in the fourth.

The application is due by July 10.

Selectperson Keith Cornelio said he didn’t think the town could commit to keeping the force intact over that period of time.

Selectperson Gary McGrane said the town could apply for it, and if it’s awarded and the town finds out there are issues and cannot fund its share, it doesn’t have to accept it.

Police Chief Richard Caton IV said he checked with grant representatives and the worse-case scenario is the town would be suspended from applying for the grant for three to five years if the town couldn’t keep its commitment.

If the paper mill shuts down next year, grant representatives just want the town to let them know.

“They will be willing to work with us,” Caton said.

If they apply and get accepted, “we can decline it,” Chairman Terry Bergeron said.

Other police departments in the state have received grants.

It’s a way of keeping the department staffed by having a grant that’s paying a large portion of the cost, LaFreniere said.

In other business, selectpersons and Public Works Director John Johnson thanked resident Gary Gagne for all of his work as a member of the Paving Committee. Gagne lost his job at Verso and can no longer make meetings as he has taken a new job in Gorham, Johnson said. 

Both Bergeron and Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo thanked former Selectperson Tom Goding for putting up American flags in town and purchasing some of them.

In other business, selectpersons voted to make changes to the town’s Cemetery Policy, which adds a fee for the sexton per burial or cremation. The town currently doesn’t charge this fee because the sexton is a full-time employee with other duties, including custodian and animal control officer.

The budget approved in April by voters makes the position part-time as of July 1. Currently, residents pay $200 for a grave lot, and nonresidents pay $275. 

The change is so that $50 from each lot per transaction will be paid by the town to the sexton, and the funeral director will pay $100 to the sexton directly for each burial or cremation prior to the burial. 

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