Sheriff’s bid to vote

Ian Lord

By Ian Lord

Staff Writer

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The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — The St. Albans Town Selectboard has warned a special meeting on Dec. 10, where residents will be asked whether the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office should be awarded the town police contract for the next three years.

The decision to place the non-binding article on a town wide ballot was made at a special meeting of the board held Wednesday evening. The town’s other option for police services is to extend the St. Albans Police Department contract that is up on June 30, 2014.

Article 1, to be voted on by Australian ballot, asks, “Shall the legal voters of the Town of St. Albans advise the selectboard to contract for police services with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for a term of three years, with an option for two one-year term extensions, commencing July 1, 2014, at a first-year cost of $684,068.55?”

The sheriff’s second year (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) contract would cost the town $696,987, and its third year would be for $714,411.70. The sheriff’s proposed optional extensions would be worth $732,272 for year four and $750,578 for year five.

The polls on Tuesday, Dec. 10 will be open at Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The current St. Albans Police Department contract with the town runs out on June 30, 2014. That contract also contains two, one year term extensions, valued at $565,021 for the period between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 and $582,021 for the second year, from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

According to the current city contract, the one year extension has to be picked up or declined at least six months before the contract runs up, meaning the selectboard will have to decide by Dec. 30.

A vote on the next police services contract wouldn’t be binding, according to the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office. As worded, the article vote is purely advisory, with the final decision left to the five-member selectboard.

While seeking selectboard positions in 2012, three of the board members — chairman Bernie Boudreau, Brent Palmer and Steve Coon — ran a unified campaign, with the position that voters should have a say in the town’s police services. The selectboard in 2011 had awarded the police contract to the city.

At least Boudreau and Palmer have maintained that position.

“Town voters need to have a say,” Palmer said Thursday. “There’s no question.”

Boudreau said last week he’s always held the belief that the police contract — one of the town’s largest budget items — needs to be decided by the voters.

Coon didn’t return a call left by the Messenger asking if he still believes voters should play a role. All five selectboard members, including Bill Nihan and Joe Montagne, signed the article warning, Wednesday night.

The selectboard opened the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office proposal Monday night at their regularly scheduled meeting. The sheriff represented the lone bid to the town, after a request for proposals was sent to that office, as well as the Milton and Swanton Police Departments.

The city was not sent a request for proposal. The selectboard decided it would go with the contract wording allowing an extension of the agreement with the city.