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Why does town of 3,000 people need 11-member police force

To The Daily Sun,

Last Saturday I spent my morning sitting through a joint budget hearing for the Town of Bristol. During this hearing the town departments present their budgets to the town electboard and budget committee. The two biggest budget requests are the police and fire departments; including capital improvements and interest both departments are requesting over $1 million each.

The questions raised by the committee and board of selectman were of the mundane sort: Why is gas so expensive? Why so much overtime? In all fairness, the budget committee were told they are not to question policy but concern themselves with budget line items only, the selectboard, with a couple exceptions, seems satisfied with the status quo. Basically, what we have in Bristol is a rubber stamp government.

Last year the town ended up with a $200,000 surplus which was added to the ever-growing unexpended fund balance of more than $1 million. That's right, $1 million collected from taxpayers that wasn't needed or used, over twice what the DRA recommends for reserve in a town with a $5.7 million budget.

No one questioned why we needed an 11-member police force. The Commission for the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) recommends an ideal of two officers per 1,000 population. Bristol's population is stable at 3,054 according to the last census. I know we need extra coverage during the summer. So why do we schedule our new hires to the academy and let our regular officers take vacation time during the summer, our busiest time of the year? If we hadn't had a 50 percent turnover rate in police officers last year maybe we could have reduced academy time? No one asked why we have such a high turnover rate.

The other large request was from our fire department with eight full-time employees. I want to be clear on this, I am not disparaging anyone on the department. As a matter of fact they are a group of dedicated professionals and deserve our praise.

What I question is, is it in the best interest of the town taxpayers to extend our EMT services to Hill, Alexandria and Danbury? When our full-time staffed ambulance is out on a call, oftentimes, an ambulance from a neighboring community is called in to cover Bristol under mutual aid. If I were a taxpayer from one of those donor mutual aid communities how would I feel knowing my tax dollars were covering for Bristol while they were out on a contractual run?

Under the current agreement, the three towns that Bristol covers reimburse Bristol by the number of calls, so if a town doesn't have any calls then theoretically Bristol taxpayers would be paying all costs incurred; station, trained personnel, ambulances, health, disability, life insurance, retirement, equipment, medical supplies, ambulance service billing and a hundred other items. This is not an equitable system and should be revised to better share the tax burden currently born by the taxpayers of Bristol and other communities.

The chairperson of the budget committee has stated that the board will not permit any public comment on these important questions at regular sessions of the budget committee. If that is the attitude of town officials we the taxpayers and voters should sponsor a warrant article to correct this system and go directly to the people.

Paul Simard


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Bernie Sanders popular because he appeals to disillusioned votersDonna Lawler (12-14) 270 GO BERNIE

To The Daily Sun,

Michael Barone states in this column that Hillary is the Democratic nominee. He is a Fox News contributor. The national media has chosen Hillary to be the Democratic nominee, as has the DNC.

The average voter relies on the media to provide unbiased information so that they can make an informed choice for their elected officials. It would be very nice if the local media would provide the unbiased information needed for their readers.

Bernie Sanders on the Democratic ticket has a very large following. This is because he appeals to those voters who have become disillusioned with how our country is being run. He refuses to have a Super PAC because he does not want to beholden to those donors. His donations are from the average person and he is doing very well. I see tremendous support for him on Facebook. His political record is consistent with his current platform. Bernie is the candidate that can win and bring the USA to where we want it to be. He is the first candidate to make me believe that my vote will count.

Because our current method of electing politicians is corrupt that is the type of politicians that get elected. They can be bought. I think that is one of the reasons why Trump is popular. The average citizen sees him as being independent and therefore not a puppet. Bernie is not a puppet. He is experienced, respected by his peers and works to unite us as a country. I would like to see more coverage of what Bernie Sanders has to offer.

Donna Lawler

  • Category: Letters
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