Town officials are seeing just how much fallout discussions about regionalization in Hartford may have, beyond impacting just school districts. It seems that the currently legislative session and talk in Hartford are now creating a hitch in Wilton’s plan to proceed on renovating the Police Station and the Town Hall Campus.

At last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice told the BOS members that Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget implementer bill 7192 contains language that levies a penalty to towns that do not become part of a regional 9-1-1 dispatch center serving a population of 40,000 or more.

“The state provides the 9-1-1 system for free, and the penalty would be that would no longer be the case,” she explained, adding that there are still questions about what the penalty cost would be to the town to run its own dispatch or even whether it could participate in the 9-1-1 system at all if it didn’t regionalize with other towns.

Other police functions are on the table in the regionalization discussion as well, including suspect holding and booking. The implications were discussed at the most recent meeting of Wilton’s police commission last week. Vanderslice said that there are many unknowns that won’t be clear until the 2019 legislative session ends later this summer–but that much of what could happen likely would be onerous.

“We’ll wait and see what comes out of this legislative session. [Former first selectman] Bill Brennan worked with other towns trying to do regional dispatching, with a number of hurdles, the biggest being labor issues–there’s no help in any legislation that I’ve seen so far,” she said, adding that the town may not have a choice.

As a result, the police commission can’t proceed with plans to seek town approval for specific changes to the Police Station. Instead, commissioners will work with Police Chief John Lynch to consider potential options–”…if we were building a full building now, building without a dispatch, without lockup, all the things that might go into a regional shared facility,” Vanderslice explained. The potential changes would also have a ripple effect on what kind of renovations it would recommend for the rest of the Town Hall campus.

With so much up in the air, the Police Headquarters/Town Hall Building Committee has extended its timeline, pushing when it hopes to bring the question to voters from November 2019 to May 2020.

In the meantime, the committee recommended keeping the same budget placeholder amount that the BOS has been using–$11,394,000–and moving that to 2021 ($5 million) and 2022 ($6.394 million) on the town’s five-year bonded capital projects plan.