Fair Haven: Town Budget Could Eliminate One Officer

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 03/27 2014 06:22PM

Updated 04/02 2014 06:30PM

FAIR HAVEN, Vt. - In Fair Haven the town's budget was voted down on Town Meeting day, so now it's back to the drawing board to see what cuts can be made. And some are worried cuts to the police force could negatively impact the town.

Nestled in southern Vermont the town of Fair Haven sits between the New York State border and Rutland.

“We are clearly a community that's on the pipeline,” said Herbert Durfee III, Fair Haven Town Manager.

Durfee said that pipeline funnels drugs such as heroin into the state.

“It is a huge issue for us. It is present in Fair Haven, no doubt about it,” said Durfee.

But Durfee says crime appears to be going down.

“Is the fact that we don't really have the burglaries at the gas stations for the last few years, a result of police presence or are we just lucky?,” said Durfee.

Luck could also play into the towns finances. On Town Meeting Day earlier this month voters turned down a $1.9 million dollar budget. Now the board has to figure out what - if anything - can be trimmed.

“At this point they've made a few cuts, not deep cuts,” said Durfee.

But a full time police officer could be one of those deep cuts. Currently the town has four full time officers, with almost a dozen part timers.
Select board member Bob Richards says he believes the police department can function just as well with three officers. But not everyone in the community agrees.

“I think there is concern. I think there is growing concern in our community that we don't want our town over run by drugs,” said Tim Langlois, a Fair Haven resident who started a petition to ask the select board to keep the police force as is.

“I just want our board to take their time to give thoughtful consideration to the impacts that such a change like this would have,” said Langlois.
So far, about 100 people signed the petition.

“I would love to see our board and our community build for a better future, instead of tear down what we have,” said Langlois.

The town manager says he's received other letters from the community showing support for the police.

In the end the town will have the final say as to whether they approve the new proposal.

The budget is tentatively set to go back up for vote on June 3rd.

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