By Polly Lynn
KILLINGTON — On Tuesday, Nov. 11, the Police and Fire Departments presented their budget drafts to the Killington Selectboard.
Police Chief Whit Montgomery presented a Power Point presentation with statistics on the past year’s policing efforts. He showed charts and graphs of call volume analysis, ticket analysis and officer incidents analysis as well as a comparative analysis of Killington’s policing requirements and budget as they compare to other similar towns in the state.
Montgomery reported that, thus far, there have been 1,109 incidents reported in Killington (a combination of town and state policing) compared with 663 in 2013. He attributed most of this increase to better accounting of reports. “Any contact with a citizen is now entered into a computer system as compared to a notebook under constableship,” he explained, adding that as a recognized police department with the state he now has access to new tools, but also must follow stricter mandates.
One such mandate, to comply with state and FBI regulations, requires dedicated office space with a locked door. Currently the Police Chief shares an office with other town employees. Montgomery said he was looking into two possible locations: a room off the ERA Real Estate Office or one upstairs at the new Chamber building at the intersection of Routes 4 and 100 North.
Montgomery reported 62 percent of incidents are traffic stops. His department has issued 246 tickets to date which represents 65 percent of the drivers pulled over (the other 35 percent received warnings.) Of those, 47 percent got a ticket for speeding 11-20 MPH over the speed limit on Killington Road — it is the most commonly ticketed violation.
Ticket revenue has yielded $4,540 in 2014 compared with $1,774 last year.
In comparison to other destination towns that are similar in size, Killington has a very low ratio of police to citizens and a low percent of their town budget allocated to the Police Department. Montgomery hopes to increase the police presence to 50 hours of coverage per week. That could be accomplished with either additional part-time officers, one additional full-time officer, or a combination of the two. Any of those options would help to reduce contract services currently relied upon when no officer is on duty, Montgomery noted, which would save on cost in that category.
Montgomery went on to describe his current budget proposal, a 9 percent increase over last year. It’s a modest proposal as he said he hoped to take small steps each year to build up the department. He also proposed an alternate budget he hoped the Selectboard would “consider down the road as it is more in line with what is needed.”
Vito Rasenas, a Killington resident in attendance, responded to Montgomery’s plan saying: “I wish the chief would be more aggressive with his funding request. We need more coverage on the off-season, particularly… to prevent burglaries.” Others in attendance agreed.
The Selectboard noted that a person who owns a property valued at $300,000 would pay an additional$11.50 per year in property taxes if the town adopted Montgomery’s alternative funding plan, which calls for one additional full-time officer and one part-time officer.
“Maybe if cuts are needed we’d rather find them somewhere else… clearly this has been popular,” said Selectwoman Patty McGrath.
Police Chief Montgomery also proposed the possibility of partnering with neighboring towns to offer coverage and a portion of their policing budget, which could create a regional police force.