Bethel finance board approves parks and recreation and police funding requests


BETHEL – Over $ 200,000 in municipal service funding requests received Finance Council approval this week.

Council voted this week to approve a request for $ 100,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department to support its programming and a request for $ 125,500 for new software from the Bethel Police Department.

The parks department’s budget was cut by $ 100,000 earlier this year when the Finance Council cut city and school budgets requested for 2021-2022 by $ 660,000, reducing the department’s programming budget to approximately $ 400,000.

Finance board chairman Bob Manfreda said the cut was not meant to cut programs but to avoid what happened the previous year when services were budgeted but never rendered due to the pandemic.

Manfreda said the finance board will work to find an additional $ 100,000 for parks and recreation programs if needed during the year 2021-2022, and that promise has been kept.

According to Parks and Recreation Director Eileen Earle, the department is seeing increased demand for programs and enrollment is higher than this time last year.

“Our programs are starting to take off and show that people want to have programs,” she told city officials last week.

With 35 to 40 percent of the department’s funds for the year already spent, Earle said the additional $ 100,000 will be crucial for the spring.

“If we don’t have the funding, we’ll have to adjust what we offer in the spring,” she said.

With the approval of the finance council, a municipal assembly must be organized to vote on the addition of the $ 100,000 to the parks and recreation programming budget.

Police department

The Finance Council voted to approve the police department’s request for funding of $ 125,500 to upgrade its computer-assisted dispatch and case management system software.

The ministry is looking to make NexGen – a public safety solutions company that serves most municipalities in the state – its new software provider.

Police chief Stephen Pugner said the new software would help improve efficiency in several ways, one being that it would allow officers to write accident reports outside of the station.

Right now, he said, they can’t do that.

“The guys have to get off the road and use the station computers to write crash reports,” Pugner told the Board of Selectmen last week.

He said the ministry’s current 15-year-old system could be upgraded to make it possible, but it would cost around $ 40,000.

With NexGen, Bethel Police would also no longer have to pay extra for system upgrades and officers could issue and submit tickets electronically, all from the scene of an incident.

“Right now we’re writing tickets by hand, going to the station and sending them to the state,” Pugner said. “This new CAD system would allow us… to enter the ticket into the computer system from the car, print it out and deliver it to the person, and it will go directly to the Crown after reviewing it.”

To switch to NexGen software for $ 125,500, Pugner said a contract must be signed with the company by the end of the year – otherwise the cost would be close to $ 200,000.

Senior Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said a city assembly would not be needed to fund the police system since it was included in the capital budget approved in the city’s last budget referendum.


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