Selectmen reject second trooper, set compromise on overtime
KENT — Influenced by the results of the recent referendum when voters rejected a proposal for a second state trooper to serve the town as a School Resource Officer, the Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 to deny a request made by former trooper Andrew Ocif to include the position in the proposed budget for the 2024 fiscal year.
The action was taken at the selectmen’s budget workshop meeting on Wednesday, March 1, one of a series of such workshops to create the town’s proposed spending plan for the 2023-24 fiscal year.
First Selectman Jean Speck cast the single negative vote, having expressed what she saw as a need for additional trooper coverage to deal with issues of speeding on town roads and other public safety needs throughout the year, particularly in summer.
“I don’t think the town will support a second state trooper,” said selectman Rufus de Rham during the discussion.
Acknowledging the need for additional coverage, however, the selectmen did favor a program of increased overtime costs between July 1 and Sept. 30, or 400 hours of planned overtime. Under the overtime plan, the town could request the service of an additional trooper from Troop L as needed during the summer. If a trooper is available to be assigned for the shift, the request could be fulfilled.
“This will satisfy those in town calling for more coverage,” de Rham commented. Selectman Glenn Sanchez agreed to the compromise.
Reporting on behalf of the transfer station, Rick Osborne of the Public Works Department was available to answer questions about the pay schedule for the coming year in his department. He is anticipating new programs in composting and recycling, expecting that the town will participate in a pilot program for organic composting.
Some towns are implementing on-site composting, Speck indicated, but Kent is expected to use the services of a vendor to haul the organic materials away to an out-of-town site. Homeowners will be issued countertop organic waste containers to help with collecting organic kitchen scraps. Osborne noted that the compost program will not include leaves.
The selectmen agreed to continue workshop meetings the following week, looking to complete work on their proposed fiscal year 2024 budget and finalizing a draft proposal on Monday, March 13. The proposed town budget will then be ready for presentation to the Board of Finance for review.