Small towns across the state respond to cuts in budget for resident state troopers
HARTFORD–Small towns around the state are unhappy with proposed changes to the resident state trooper program.
The state intends to cut funding, which would leave the 62 towns that have a resident trooper to pay 100 percent of the cost of maintaining the program. Currently, the state pays for 30 percent.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities conducted a statewide survey on the response to the proposed changes. In all, 29 towns responded, and the cost for those towns to pay the extra 30 percent to maintain a resident trooper would amount to $3.1 million. The total cost of damage that the change in legislation will have would exceed $5 million–and that number would be significantly higher if more towns had responded to the survey.
On average, each town would have to pay more than $108,000 more, with a range of $39,000 to $310,000 for specific towns.
The testimony that CCM provided at a hearing on the issue today showed the damage that the changes will have.
For many small towns, this increase would be unsustainable. Local officials would have to decide whether to continue to participate in the program, or rely on troopers from the barracks to provide necessary public safety. If this occurs, it is unlikely that the state will benefit from the anticipated $4 million savings this proposal forecasts, as troopers will still be required to patrol and respond to incidents in the community.
Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul was also at the meeting, and his analysis of the changes were aligned with what the CCM said. He said if his town had to make up the extra 30 percent of funds, “That means I lay off two constables, and the two constables are my front line battle against the drug problem that every community in this state has.”
Barkhamsted’s first selectman, Don Stein, also reinforced the claim that the state would actually benefit from the savings if it didn’t have to pay that extra 30 percent of costs. “If towns eliminate the resident state trooper program, the state must shoulder 100 percent of the costs of providing public safety coverage in these areas,” Stein said.
The CCM further pointed out that as it is now, resident state troopers can be called out of town to scenes five to eight times a week. While the CCM understands that the troopers need to respond to nearby incidents, the group also feels that towns having to foot the whole bill is unfair to local property taxpayers. The CCM proposed the following solution:
Therefore, CCM recommends at the very least, that the committee consider requiring the state to reimburse municipalities, or provide credits for the time resident state troopers spend outside of their communities.