The Chestertown Council voted unanimously Monday to offer acting Chief John Dolgos the job of Chief for one year; the contract gives the town the option to extend the contract for six months, which would end at the time of Dolgos’ mandatory retirement in October of 2021.
Dolgos was in the council chamber during the announcement and would not comment after the meeting.
He said he would wait to see the details of the offer.
The offer to Dolgos is made a week after the town council voted to recommit to Chestertown keeping its own police force, as opposed to handing policing over to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, an idea hatched last October by Mayor Chris Cerino and outgoing Ward 1 Councilman Marty Stetson to cut ballooning public safety costs that had reached 43 percent of the town’s annual budget.
The costs should come down since staff strength has fallen from 14 to 12 officers. The council voted Monday, Jan. 27 to keep the number at 12, including Dolgos.
Citizens and other officials said they believed the town raised the specter of nixing the police department to force the Kent County Commissioners to pay a tax differential, or grant-in-aid, to the town.
But the Kent Commissioners have been steadfast that they support the town in ways that equate to a differential.
The differential is a rebate on property taxes town residents pay the county for services like police, street cleaning and planning & zoning, which the town provides and pays for out of its own budget. The differential exists in the vast majority of counties in the form of a lower county tax rate to town residents or a direct cash payout to the municipality, but not in all cases.
It became apparent since last fall that uncertainty was driving CPD officers to look elsewhere for employment.
Mayor Chris Cerino said at Jan. 27 Council meeting that the fate of CPD and Dolgos’ inability to replace staff was hurting morale.
“The uncertainty is not helping us with retention or morale or anything that makes a workplace a positive place to be,” he said. “Right now [Dolgos] is in limbo where we’ve kind of undercut cut his ability to do his job well. I feel bad about that and I want to try and rectify it.
Dolgos has been with CPD for over 28 years and has served under a handful of police chiefs. He is the longest-serving officer in CPD history.
Former CPD Chief Adrian Baker promoted Dolgos to second-in-command shortly after his arrival in 2012.