Castleton taxpayers are unknowingly spending tax dollars for police service in towns where they don’t reside, and one Select Board member at the Nov. 8 board meeting said he wants it to stop. Police Chief Bruce Sherwin told the board that his department is called to other towns by other police agencies a few times a week to back them up, a practice he said happens across the state. But an animated Selectman, Pat Eagan, said Castleton officers should be staying in Castleton.
The board, after ample fireworks between Eagan and Sherwin, voted 3-2 against a motion by Eagan to keep Castleton police officers from assisting officers in other towns.
Sherwin explained that Castleton officers provide service to other law enforcement agencies upon request of the state police, not the specific town in need.
But Eagan said it doesn’t matter, who is requesting.
“If the state of Vermont underfunds their troopers, the town of Castleton shouldn’t have to pick up the slack,” Eagan shouted with spit flying from his mouth.
Sherwin kept his cool while Eagan became increasingly irritated with his responses.
“No matter what action this board takes I will never leave another officer to hang,” said Sherwin.
Sherwin reiterated that the town of Castleton was the first priority, but Eagan was still not satisfied.
He leaned over the table and stared Sherwin directly in the eyes.
“Taxpayers in Castleton shouldn’t be providing service for towns with no police officers,” Eagan said with a raised voice. “If you have a problem with that I suggest you should, I feel you should resign.”
Board member Cristine Smith then stepped in to try and relieve the tension.
“Pat this is completely out of line, you take it out in private if you have aggression,” she said.
Once things settled down, Board member Jim Leamy asked that Sherwin and Town Manager Charles Jacien work out a financial agreement with bordering towns to pay for Castleton’s police service that they currently receive for free.
Also at the meeting, town Lister Kim Miller tried to educate the board about what may be considered conflict of interest stemming from a recent assessment dispute. Miller’s efforts were disregarded by the board.
“It’s falling on deaf ears,” Miller said. “I tried.”
In other business:
Castleton taxpayers will need to come up with $40,000 this fiscal year for increased healthcare and unemployment insurance rates, Jacien announced.
Jacien was granted approval to seek an $8,000 municipal grant to explore the recreational needs of the town.
A new fire truck has been delivered to the town which will replace two mid 80s Maxum pumpers that will be sold for $3,000. Fire department officials may also choose to strip parts from one of the vehicles and post them for sale on eBay.
Police Chief Bruce Sherwin announced the purchase of a new cruiser and talked about the ongoing search to hire a new police officer. Both the vehicle and the officer are expected to arrive in about eight weeks.