In spite of individual reservations, Lyndonville trustees agreed to put a proposal for a local police department to a vote by Lyndonville residents at the village meeting in March.
Whether the village of Lyndonville needs a police department has been an ongoing debate. The latest proposal would establish a town of Lyndon police department which would in turn be contracted by the village to patrol an area including the village itself with a perimeter marked by the Lily Pond Road, Red Village Road, Route 5, Back Center Road, and Route 122 to Route 114. The current proposal also includes occasional patrols in the Lyndon Corner area.
The estimated cost to start operations in 2002 using a police chief and one additional officer, plus a cruiser, is $172,506. Successive years would start out costing about $151,000 with gradual increases. A certain amount of that cost would be offset by savings from not having to contract with state police for patrol services.
The big question before the trustees last night -- and eventually before the town -- was how that cost will be shared among the taxpayers of the town and the village.
The current proposal splits the budget so that about 70 percent of the costs would be borne by the village and the other 30 percent by the town. In real numbers the plan estimates it will add about 16 cents per hundred dollars assessed value to the village rate and about 3 cents to the town rate.
The allocation of costs was the chief objection of the plan & #039;s most outspoken opponent, Trustee Don Blake who felt many of the problems that end up in the village originate in the town and outlying areas. Blake said the plan costs too much money, and the village is just too small to support it.
"The time is coming when we will need a police department," said Blake. "But I don & #039;t think the village taxpayers are going to want to bite the bullet and double what they pay now for police coverage."
The trustees discussed changing the figures to reflect a 60/40 or even 50/50 split, but felt the selectmen would not even consider such a proposal.
"It & #039;s not an ideal plan, it & #039;s not a perfect plan ... but this is a starting point," said Trustee Tom Loomis. "I would like to see it go forward and let the public tell us what to do."
A motion by Loomis passed 4-1. Blake was the lone dissenter.
The vote was significant not only because it sends the proposal before the entire village for action at the village meeting, but because it puts the ball in the court of the town selectmen. If the selectmen refuse to take up the measure, noted Chairman Tim Gaskin, the proposal will be a dead issue.