CLINTON — The Board of Selectmen has approved the next step in developing a new space for the police department.

The board is also discussing possible uses for American Rescue Plan Act funding, and approved the purchase of a truck for the transfer station.

On Tuesday, members heard from the Public Safety Building Advisory Committee about plans to build new spaces for the police and fire departments.

The police department’s cramped premises are no longer deemed functional for the staff after the town’s insurance agency inspected the building last year and said that officers may not bring anyone who is under arrest back to the station, because there is no way to separate that person from the public.

The current police department space “is basically nothing but a place for them to push paper at this point,” said Jeff Pierce, the committee chairman. “None of the actual functions of the police department as far as questioning, booking, processing, anything like that, happen in the town.” Officers have been taking people to police stations in surrounding towns to process paperwork.

Clinton’s fire department is also set to outgrow its space in the near future.

Pierce, along with Frank Gioffre, the town’s code enforcement officer, said that the best path forward will be two separate spaces, done one at a time.

The committee decided that the police department’s needs are more urgent. Committee members are discussing a plan to build a 1,400-square-feet addition to the town office. The space the department occupies now is just under 400 square feet.

Gioffre and Pierce came to the board because they said the committee can’t go further without working with an engineering firm, as required by the state. The board previously approved $2,500 for the engineering report, but Gioffre said that after speaking with the firm it will be more expensive than that. The selectmen approved up to $5,000 to be spent from the Public Safety Building reserve account.

The board also discussed with Clinton Town Manager Earla Haggerty appropriate ways to use funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, since the money comes with restrictions on how it can be spent. The latest numbers from the governor indicate that Clinton will receive about $334,000, Haggerty said.

One option for the town is to give grants directly to residents, although Haggerty was hesitant to endorse that idea because of logistical concerns. Clinton doesn’t have an administrative framework set up for that sort of process, she said, and would have to create it from scratch. If the board chooses to go that route, Haggerty suggested hiring an administrator to handle it, because she said she won’t have time for the task considering her other duties.

Another way to spend the money would be to give hazard pay or grants to town employees. The town offered an additional $2 an hour to police department, fire department and transfer station employees earlier in the pandemic. If the town were to do this again, Haggerty said she would recommend including other town employees. Over a year, that would cost around $95,000, she estimated. Another option would be to offer one-time grants to town workers — $3,000 for full-time employees and $2,000 for part-time employees. That option would cost around $74,000.

The town can also reimburse itself for revenue lost during the pandemic.

Haggerty further proposed partnering with the Clinton Water District, a public utility not owned by the town, to extend water and sewer lines along Hinckley Road or to the local parks. Selectmen were interested in the idea of partnering with the district, and Haggerty said she would try and set up a meeting with officials there.

The board also approved the purchase of a used 2008 two-wheel-drive Chevrolet truck for $1,500. Other trucks had been considered, but board members rejected them due to cost. The money for the truck will come from the Transfer Station Reserve Account. The vehicle will be used to collect trash from the town office and local parks, as the town has received complaints about trash buildup in the parks, Haggerty said. The vehicle should allow the town to stop paying for a dumpster.

The Board of Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at 6:30 p.m., and is expected to hear from the road committee and discuss the Town Charter revision.

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