On Town Meeting Day in early March, voters rejected Hinesburg’s $815,483 police budget proposal for 2023. Half of the department’s full-time officers have given their notice since the election, and the town is struggling to replace them.

Police Chief Anthony Cambridge and Selectboard Chair Merrily Lovell both said at a police budget hearing on Wednesday that until about a month ago, Hinesburg was the only Vermont town with a fully-staffed police department.

“Our surrounding towns, particularly Williston and Shelburne, have reacted to their reduced forces by increasing salaries and increasing incentives,” Lovell said.

The increases have led two Hinesburg P.D. officers to leave for Shelburne and a third to depart for Williston. Hinesburg officials have asked the Vermont State Police for temporary help in filling the coverage gap. However, Town Manager Todd Odit says they were told VSP doesn’t have the staff to police communities that have historically policed themselves.

“I think their attrition rate is that for every officer they gain, they lose three,” Odit said. “So their expectation is that the town would get back to 24/7 coverage.”

At the moment, Hinesburg’s three officers can only provide coverage from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays. This essentially means Chief Cambridge is on call at all other times.

“What he needs to do is make a decision as to, should that call be forwarded to the state police or not? And if not, then his response is going to be, he’ll have to come into the police department where open and file a report,” Odit said.

The Selectboard and the police department recognize that the situation is not sustainable in the long term. The new budget proposal, scaled down to $800,491, will account for more than three officers. However, the higher wages and signing bonuses offered nearby will likely boost the cost of any new hires in Hinesburg as well.

“The budget we’re proposing can probably support five (officers),” Lovell said. “Definitely four, probably not six.”

Hinesburg’s police budget goes to voters again on Tuesday, May 24.