The I-Team has discovered that the Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communications Center has spent thousands of dollars on public relations including a trip to Boston to see a Red Sox game.
The I-Team spoke with a person close to the center who wanted to remain anonymous so as not to have trouble with employment.
"Everybody found out they were at the Boston Red Sox game," the source said
The I-Team looked at the two most recent years and found the receipt spent $9 on Dunkin Donuts runs to $70 spent at the Japanese/ Thai restaurant. And there were more expenses like close to $1,000 spent at Edible Arrangements and 1-800-flowers.
"Dispatch centers don't do that, it's just not a common practice," said Bernie Meehan, Roxbury's Emergency management Director. "They operate with public funds, funded by taxpayers, I'm not sure there is a need to take people to lunch."
Meehan said his town spends about $20,000 a year for the Northwest Connecticut Safety Dispatch services. He'd had heard about the trip to Boston when it happened.
"I questioned the organization about it, and I never really got a good answer," Meehan said.
Prospect pays about $54,000 to Northwest annually, said Prospect's Mayor Robert Chatfield.
The I-Team tried to get answers but no one would talk. The Executive Director abruptly canceled a meeting. After we pushed for it, a lawyer finally agreed to see us.
Attorney Karen Daley, who would only talk off-camera at her Bridgeport office defended the spending.
She said out the $10,000 to $15,000 a year budgeted for public relations and planning is less than 1 percent of the center's total budget of about $1 million.
Daley called the expenses appropriate for a business looking to keep good relationships with the towns and cities it serves and to recruit new ones.
"In this day and age you can justify spending taxpayers money for a weekend away, whether it's for corporate development or what have you," Meehan said.
Other town officials the I-Team spoke with who work with the center say they think the public relations and planning budget benefits the dispatch center.
After the I-Team started asking questions, a meeting was called at the center to let folks know the I-team was in town.
We have since learned out of state trips will stop at least for now.
Copyright 2012 WFSB (Meredith Corporation) All rights reserved.
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