Small Towns Need Relief

February 9, 2015

Sen. Formica: Public Safety should not depend on a price tag.

Hartford, CT – State Senator Paul M. Formica (R-East Lyme) has filed a bill with the General Assembly’s Public Safe Committee asking for relief when it comes to who should foot the bill for overtime costs associated with the Resident State Trooper position. The bill, which was given a public hearing this week is entitled, AN ACT CONCERNING THE OVERTIME COSTS OF RESIDENT STATE POLICE OFFICERS.

“The intent of this law is to reduce the amount of money that towns must provide for Resident State Trooper fringe charges directly associated with overtime costs,” said Sen. Formica. “It can be very costly for a small town to pay two fringe rates, one on regular pay and one on overtime.”

Currently, the state requires municipalities to pay for 70% of the trooper costs and the state picks up the other 30%. But when it comes to overtime costs, towns pay 100% percent of the costs associated with the position.

Sen. Formica’s proposal asks for an accounting of the 83% over time fringe rate. Specifically, why a portion of that is funded to pay past employee’s pension and benefits, instead of funding their fair share?

Based on a 2009 opinion by the Office of the Attorney General, the town share for Resident State Trooper overtime was 70%. This was increased to 100% in 2011 as a result of Public Act 11-51.

Formica says, “If a town can’t afford its own police department many go with a resident state trooper to keep everyone safe, but there are also exceptions.”

In Bozrah, which is part of Sen. Formica’s district the town can’t afford a police department or a resident state trooper and relies on the state police to answer emergency calls.

“There is some thought that other towns will follow suit because they can no longer afford the long list of costs borne by having a resident state trooper. Costs including travel stipend, clothing, overhead, and overtime with, an 82% fringe cost,” remarked Sen. Formica.

According to a 2014, Program Review and Investigations Committee report on trooper staffing levels in the state, fifty-five municipalities rely on the police services of Resident State Troopers (RST). Towns without police departments, or only employing trained constables, may contract with the Division of State Police for RSTs. Those contracts last a maximum of two years, may be renewed or cancelled, and specify the types of services provided and the cost of such services.

The total cost to towns in 2012 was $10,928,221 not including overtime. There were 110.5 resident state troopers serving 55 towns in 2012. Currently there are 99 Resident State Troopers.

Senator Formica is a member of the Public Safety Committee of the General Assembly. As with all proposed bills that come before the committee – a decision will be made as to whether the idea will move on through the process or whether it will be tabled for lack of support.