The village and town of Northfield are home to about 6,000 people. The two communities recently won approval from the state to merge, as area residents search for ways to trim costs, and by extension, lower one of the highest local property tax rates in the state.
Select board chairman John Quinn says now they're looking for similar consolidation savings at the police department.
"With the departure of our police chief it was a good time to talk to Berlin about sharing responsibility," Quinn said.
Northfield currently relies on an interim chief to run its seven-member department. Quinn says the operating budget is just less than $900,000 a year, similar to that of neighboring Berlin.
He recently pitched a plan to his board-- and that of his neighbors-- to allow Berlin's chief to manage both departments, saving both towns some dough.
"I think there's a lot of details to work out, this isn't something that's going to happen overnight," Quinn said.
Berlin's police chief says they handle about 6-10 calls a day on average, but he declined to comment on whether or not he felt he could handle the responsibilities of managing two departments.
"There is a number of specific issues that need to be looked at and concerned," said Jeff Schulz, the Berlin town administrator.
Schulz says Berlin will need to be convinced that shared savings can make up for potential issues with logistics, accountability and a desire for complete local control. He says budgets already agreed to by voters of both towns means any change is unlikely to happen this year.
"The board is still taking the issue under advisement, it's still talking about it, no actual decision has been made," Schulz said.
Berlin's board is expected to tackle the proposal again at its next meeting June 17.
Northfield's interim chief says he's not convinced the proposal would work, but is onboard with whatever his select board decides.
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