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Approved Darien Budget Boosts Services for Youth

DARIEN, Conn. — The Darien Board of Selectmen approved its budget Monday, with several items included to increase the town’s service to its youth. The budget increased 6.4 percent to $41,298,468.

The budget includes a $15,000 increase in police overtime to pay for a school resource officer . This officer would be stationed in the halls of Darien High School during the day to build relationships with students and advise them on issues such as drinking or bullying.

This would be the first year a SRO is used at the high school. The selectmen said they are introducing the officer on a trial basis and would re-evaluate next year whether it is successful and beneficial enough to warrant further funding.

An additional $12,500 would be given to the Depot teen center as part of its grant from the town, increasing its total funding to $51,950. The increase to the Depot comes out of the grant normally given each year to Youth Options, which helps teens dealing with substance abuse. Town Administrator Karl Kilduff said that for the past few years Youth Options has not provided services to the town and not shown a need for the $29,500 grant Darien normally provides it.

The $29,500 grant to Youth Options was eliminated, and the grant to the Depot was increased. Selectmen David Bayne and John Lundeen questioned the decision, saying the Depot had not demonstrated a need for more funding nor specified how the additional money would be used.

Janice Marzano, the Depot’s program director, said the teen center for years has provided troubled youth with the referral and support services that Youth Options has not. She said the money would help pay for the services that the Depot currently provides, as well as help with upkeep on the building.

The budget still needs to be approved by the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting.

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