Deerfield voters back money for school police officer, regional ambulance

OK spending for regional ambulance as well

  • Voters at the Deerfield town meeting at Frontier Regional School, Monday, April 25. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Voters at the Deerfield town meeting look over the budget at Frontier Regional School Monday, Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness speaks at the Deerfield town meeting at Frontier Regional School Monday, April 25. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Doug Finn, the Deerfield town administrator, confers with a colleague at the Deerfield town meeting at Frontier Regional School Monday, April 25. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Mark Gilmore, of the Deerfield selectboard, listens to comments from the voters at the Deerfield town meeting at Frontier Regional School Monday, April 25. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Peter James, the Deerfield town meeting moderator, speaks at Frontier Regional School Monday, April 25. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Thursday, April 28, 2016

DEERFIELD — Voters at town meeting opted to throw their tax money and support behind keeping a school resource officer stationed at Frontier Regional School.

Residents voted overwhelmingly on Monday to increase police payroll from $698,476 to $751,467 for officer Brian Ravish’s presence during the academic year and throughout the summer.

John Paciorek, approaching his fourth year as Deerfield police chief, said the $52,991 increase in police payroll supports the continuation of the school resource officer position at Frontier Regional School. He explained that officer protects students in a school and serves as a confidant and liaison for them.

“The world we live in today is changing. Our kids are changing,” Paciorek said in support of an school resource officer’s work.

A few people asked why the department doesn’t just assign an officer to Frontier and the chief said he works Monday through Friday with another officer, but this leaves one officer to watchdog more than 5,000 residents when the chief is busy with meetings and court appearances. Having an school resource officer at Frontier enables two full-time officers to patrol the town and a separate person to serve young students, Paciorek said.

Finance Committee member Jeff Upton stood up to voice his support for an school resource officer. He said he has worked in school districts that employ such officers and the benefits were immediately evident with a reduction of conflicts and other issues.

Paciorek said the money includes necessary training for the officer. The $751,467 for police payroll was part of a $13,467,982 omnibus budget passed at town meeting.

Regional ambulance

Voters also approved $314,656 for South County Emergency Medical Services in FY2017. That figure is solely Deerfield’s assessment for regional ambulance, which services, Deerfield, Whately and Sunderland.

The service is currently based out of the South Deerfield Fire District, where it pays $18,000 in rent per year. It will go up to about $36,000 on July 1, 2016, if the service stays in that building. At that time, the service would pay $50,287 in rent across three locations. Smith previously said SCEMS has had overwhelming community support since it went into service in July 2014.

Wastewater plant

The town’s wastewater department benefited from a pair of articles that approved the transfer of $802,611 from sewer reserves. Voters agreed on $672,611 for general operation and maintenance of the town’s two wastewater treatment plants and approved $130,000 for upgrades via the so-called Headworks Project.

Deerfield Town Administrator Douglas C. Finn has explained the Headworks Project will allow the town to modernize and upgrade the South Deerfield plant with pipes that direct flow in certain directions and bypass specific parts of the facility. Chief Operator Keith Milne told The Recorder the upgrades would also include a mechanical bar screen, which he said constantly removes nondigestible solids — such as plastic, dental floss, and sanitary wipes made from polyester or nylon — from sewage flowing into the plant.

Finn and Milne told The Recorder a mechanical bar screen will save the town money, time and labor and will cut down on energy costs.

Finn also said neither article will affect taxes because the sewer system has always been funded through user fees.

Town meeting was adjourned at 10 p.m. and is slated to continue on Thursday.

During a Special Town Meeting that preceded the annual town meeting, voters passed an article to require town departments that regularly schedule work shifts between 3 and 11 p.m. to pay employees an additional $1 for each hour worked and departments that regularly schedule shifts between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. to pay an additional $1.50 per hour.

The proposed article states “regularly” will mean no less than four times weekly and in no less than 36 weeks per fiscal year.

Residents OK’d transferring from free cash $257,200 to pay back a loan for energy conservation in municipal buildings.