WATERBORO — Should Waterboro contract with the York County Sheriff ’s Office for a second full-time deputy?

Voters will decide that question in a couple of months.

On Tuesday, selectmen voted unanimously to put the issue before voters in a referendum on June 14 after briefly mulling whether to hold off until the November election.

But even if voters approve the June referendum, it will still require funding approval by town meeting voters on June 18 because of the way the town charter is written. Referendum questions may pass or fail at a town election, but funding is allocated through the town meeting process.

“If it passes, it can still be turned down at town meeting,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Dennis Abbott.

If the proposal is defeated at referendum, it cannot be funded on the town meeting floor, Abbott said this morning. And if it fails in June, Abbott speculated, there would be a push to hold another referendum in November. If passed then, a special town meeting would be held afterward to fund the contract, he said.

Waterboro is one of nine rural towns that receives primary police coverage from the York County Sheriff ’s Office. For 16 years, residents have opted to contract for a 40-hour-a-week deputy to provide coverage beyond what the sheriff ’s office is able to provide through regular zone coverage.

But Waterboro’s population is growing, and so is the need for more public safety, town officials say. According to a recent report from the sheriff ’s office, deputies responded to or initiated 4,795 calls for service in 2015.

The call for a second contract deputy comes after a recommendation from the town’s public safety committee, which studied the issue and delivered a report to selectmen in July. The proposed contract for two deputies, including salaries, benefits and vehicles leases, is $221,000.

The committee explored a couple of options, including establishing the town’s own police department. While ongoing costs for the two systems appeared close, the report stated, it also pointed out there are a few major differences, including start- up costs, an office and liability issues.

The decision to put the matter to voters came as selectmen perused the proposed municipal budget ahead of the June 14 town election and June 18 town meeting.

There were a few adjustments to the proposed $5.9 million municipal budget, and the precise amount of Waterboro’s share of the RSU 57 school budget is not yet available.

Other factors, such as how much the town will use from undesignated funds to offset the budget, remain to be decided, so a projected mil rate was not available as of Tuesday.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]


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