Office move, deficit fueling Bristol police budget hike

BRISTOL — Bristol residents in the village police district could see a 12.5 percent hike in the amount to be raised by taxes if the police department’s spending plan is approved on Monday.
The proposed $378,806 police district budget for 2010-2011 is slated for a vote on May 24 at a 7 p.m. meeting at the Bristol Hub Teen Center, where residents will also discuss the town’s water and sewer budgets for the coming fiscal year.
Proposed expenditures at the police department jumped 6.7 percent from last year’s approved budget, and a large part of the increase comes from the added costs associated with housing the Bristol Police Department. The department was previously located in Holley Hall, and then moved with the town offices to temporary lodging at 6 South St. because of high radon levels in Holley Hall’s basement offices.
The renovated Holley Hall offices won’t have space for the police department, though, which means the line item in the proposed 2010-2011 budget for facility rental and utilities jumped from $2,400 this year to $12,000.
The proposed budget also reflects a deficit of $11,782 from the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2009, due primarily to increases in health insurance costs that exceeded the 10 percent anticipated hike.
The proposed 12.5 percent increase in the proposed amount to be raised by taxes outstrips the 6.7 percent increase in spending due to declining non-tax revenues, including:
• A $3,500 decrease in the contract services agreement with Mount Abraham Union High School.
• A projected $3,000 decrease in fines.
• Decreased grant funding from programs like “Click It or Ticket,” a DUI patrol grant, and a grant that supported the department’s child safety seat fitting program.
The Bristol Police Department works outside the downtown area for specific incidents or emergencies, but day-to-day police work is only provided in the village, and property owners in that area provide the bulk of the department’s funding. When police work is needed in Bristol outside the district, the department either refers it to the Vermont State Police in New Haven or, in the case of Mount Abe, bills the school for service on a contract basis.
Following the police district annual meeting, members of the Board of Water Commissioners and the Board of Sewer Commissioners will hold public hearings to gather input on the water and sewer budgets for the coming year. In both cases, the amount to be generated by user fees is expected to drop slightly next year, so budgets for both departments are slated to decrease.
Also on Monday, the selectboard will host a discussion regarding the Lathrop gravel pit’s Act 250 application; award a contract for part of the Holley Hall renovation project; collect engineering proposals for the town salt shed; and take sidewalk reconstruction bids, among other business.
Reporter Kathryn Flagg is at [email protected].

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