Board of Selectmen Meeting
Monday, January 12, 2018
7:30 p.m., Redding Community Center
Present: Julia Pemberton, First Selectman; Peg O’Donnell, Selectman; Michael Thompson, Selectman.
Also present: members of the public; reporters; videographers.
1. Call to Order
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.
2. Approval of Minutes
On the motion of M. Thompson and the second of P. O’Donnell, the Board voted unanimously to approve the 1/22/18 Special Meeting Minutes.
On the motion of M. Thompson and the second of P. O’Donnell, the Board voted unanimously to approve the 1/22/18 Regular Meeting Minutes.
3. Public Comment
Wolf Boehme provided an introduction to his petition on behalf of “A Better Redding” to reduce police staffing to align with the needs of the Town. Staffing model variations were briefly reviewed. Mr. Boehme noted the petition has been signed by 175 people, however, only 116-118 have “ties to Redding.” Julia Pemberton clarified that auxiliary staff are not employees of the Town.
Members of the public, law enforcement, and fire department employees and volunteers spoke in support of the current staffing. Sean McKenney, Redding Ridge FD Chief, stated that downsizing the police department would be “detrimental to public safety”. Members of the public thanked the current emergency responders for their quick response times. The challenges of locating an address in Redding were noted especially as it relates to a responder/State Trooper from out of town. Adam Kohlberg stated that he moved to Redding for the safe community and noted the importance of personal relationships with police officers.
Ellen William, Gallows Hill Extension, stated that due to the ballooning costs, the proposed alternative bears investigating. Linda Steinorth, Fire Hill Road, expressed her concern re: “militarization of a small town” as evidenced by the acquisition of a tank. J. Pemberton confirmed that the vehicle is a Hummer which was gifted to the town.
Georgetown Fire Commissioner Jim Mecozzi expressed his concern for the safety of officers and spoke to the debt to those who have died on the job. Gino Marsili likened police staffing to wearing a seat belt stating “You probably don’t need it but it could save my life, like a seatbelt.” Tracy Darmofal, Archers Lane, stated that a police officer is not provided at the high school but is needed.
Sean Morris, Dayton Road, spoke in support of current staffing levels. As a former dispatcher, he reported that mutual aid assistance responders typically are not familiar with the Redding roads. James Miller, Middlebrook Pond Road, commended Chief Fuchs for his assistance with the Sandy Hook shootings. He noted the police assistance with an elderly resident who was scammed and concluded “we need well-trained police in town.”
Mr. Boehme stated that he is not asking to not have backup. He requested attendees to learn more about the petition and stated that New Fairfield is another comparative town. J. Pemberton confirmed the current town population as 9306.
Toni Sand stated that people are naïve if they read the police reports in the paper and believe that was the extent of police activity. Greg Cowell stated that investing in education and law enforcement are “no brainers”. He encouraged conducting an impact study and finding other ways other than reducing the staffing.
M. Thompson thanked the attendees for their comments and those involved in law enforcement who provide their service to the community. He noted that Region 9 has jurisdiction regarding a police officer in the high school and encouraged residents to attend the Region 9 meetings.
P. O’Donnell noted that this is a community that cares about their town and neighbors and she is happy to receive additional comments or questions via email.
4. Discussion and Possible Action FY 2018-2019 Budget
J. Pemberton stated that each department was charged with a 5% reduction before salary increases. Each department budget was reviewed. Rob Blick will be requested to come in for further review.
Police Department costs were reviewed on a per capital basis and compared to other towns in Fairfield County. J. Pemberton reported that the per capita spending for Redding is the lowest for the County. The budget for this department is not yet complete.
Re: Highway Department, TAR funds have been left in the State budget.
A special meeting will be set up to finalize the budget.
5. Administrative: Appointment of Chuck Cilo to the Planning Commission to fill vacancy
On the motion of M. Thompson and the second of P. O’Donnell, the Board voted unanimously to appoint Chuck Cilo to the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy left by Laura Hoeing.
6. Public Comment
Dave Smith, Redding Road, asked what the final Police Department budget is. J. Pemberton noted that it is not finalized.
James Miller asked what the Town Clerk and Registrar are doing to protect voter information. Information will be requested from the CT Secretary of State.
7. Board Member Comment
On the motion of M. Thompson and the second of P. O’Donnell, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 10:55 p.m.
Kristi C. Reilly