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On Tuesday, August 12, the Town Council held a Special Session on the police station and approving a bond of $21,000,000 to construct the police station. As minority council members, we all voted no on two critical votes that evening.

Vote One: The Democratically led Council voted to waive Rule 7 of the Berlin Town Council Rules and Procedures.  We voted no on that.

We also voted NO to approve the bond of $21,000,000 for the police station. We would like the Berlin residents to understand our position and educate themselves about this project prior to the potential referendum vote in November.

The reasons why we voted NO:

1) The cost to the taxpayer for the police station in light of all other projects contemplated, in progress, and completed, but still paying debt service on, is not clear yet.  Even up until the meeting, we were waiting for the Town to provide  the annual debt costs of all the projects in progress (and/or contemplated) and it was not yet settled.

2) The Democrats waived Rule 7 which normally gives the public a couple weeks to digest what they have been given for the first time as the ‘official’ costs of the project and associated details.  A number of new pieces of information were presented last night that we had heard for the first time.  This time would have allowed for a more thorough discussion and questions/options that may not have been considered.

3) We feel there is a conflict of interest in a firm analyzing the renovation of the existing police station compared to building new when the new (if similar to what we were told about the high school) is more expensive than renovating.   The conflict is that such a firm may benefit financially with a more expensive solution.  We do not believe the police station renovation investigated accounted for possible movement of other departments out of town hall to be housed in less expensive spaces to rent/build than to have the police utilize such space.  The firm asked to analyze the situation was not told to find a way to make it work at the existing site.

4)  There has been no objective (compared to anecdotal) evidence that the police station will have the economic development impact (including reduced taxes because of businesses who come to town because the police station has moved downtown) touted by some on council.

5)  Our approval of the purchase of land for possible development of a police station was not an approval to automatically build a police station.  The town could sell the property to a developer or find another use.

6) To represent those who can’t afford the increase in taxes.

7) We are buyers of town services negotiating our future taxes.

What needs to happen next?

We need answers to the total cost of ownership, Is there less of an impact by shifting when we start the project, How does the building needs assessment for $28M compare in priority to the police station, etc…

Why are we supportive of a petition for a referendum?

It is a significant expenditure which needs the input from up to approximately 12,000 tax payers independent of who they like to have on the council.

Please feel free to contact us with your ideas/comments on this project or any town issue. We are here to listen to you and to serve you.

Dave Evans, Brenden Luddy and Charles Paonessa., Republican Town Council Members

Click here for a schedule of upcoming informational tours of Police Headquarters.