January 3, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — Only a decade ago, Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley didn’t have to worry a lot about filling unexpected vacancies on his force. He would just reach into his filing cabinet and pull out a folder with more than 50 qualified candidates, and start recruiting.
It’s not that easy anymore.
Middlebury is currently struggling to fill two longstanding vacancies on its police force, a chore made especially difficult by a shallow pool of applicants, many of whom can’t measure up to even basic entry requirements.
“It’s been a rough road to hoe this past year,” Hanley said on Friday.
“The candidate pool is very thin,” he added. “The trend seems to be that people are not entering this type of public service anymore.”
It was back in February that the town began advertising its two police officer vacancies, thus far with limited success.
Hanley now has around 30 résumés in his file of candidates, but none have completely worked out. The department has offered multiple rounds of candidate testing during the past 10 months, but the smattering of hopefuls have either failed to make the grade; have moved on to other opportunities; or couldn’t pass the requisite background check.
Middlebury has decided to continue its search rather than make some potentially bad hires.
“We are not going to lower our standards to get people in the door,” Hanley said. “You can’t let a cancer in the door.”
The town of Middlebury is far from alone in having a hard time attracting and retaining qualified police officers. It is a problem that has been plaguing local, county and state law enforcement operations not only throughout Vermont, but the Northeast, officials said.
January 3, 2008
By MEGAN JAMES
ADDISON COUNTY — When former state Rep. Mark Young of Orwell got his first crash course in Vermont’s captive insurance industry 15 years ago, the rest of the country was suspicious of what the Green Mountain State was up to.
At the time, only a handful of states had laws to license captive insurance companies, which a business may form if it wishes to insure its own risks, rather than get coverage from an outside insurance company.
Once known as “offshore” insurance companies, captives have traditionally operated out of places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. But back in 1992, Vermont’s captive industry was already on its way to becoming the largest in any state in the country.
Today, it is the second largest in the world, and the economic benefits for Vermont are undeniable. Besides creating employment opportunities for young Vermonters with a college degree — there are nearly 1,500 related jobs — the industry brought in $24.3 million last year in tax revenue.
“And think about it, there’s no smoke, there’s no pollution, no trailer trucks coming in and out,” Young said. “It’s a huge thing for Vermont.”
In 2003, the last time the state released a comprehensive evaluation of the captive industry’s economic impact, 1,429 Vermonters worked in the industry. The average salary for those jobs was $55,179, about 60 percent above the average private, non-farming job in Vermont, according to Dan Towle, Director of Financial Services at the Vermont Department of Economic Development.
This year 814 businesses have captive insurance licensed in Vermont, and $11.5 billion has flowed through the state in premium payments.
“Vermont started from humble beginnings, and now we’re the second largest in the world (behind Bermuda),” Towle said.