Derby Revisits Championship Ring Policy

Derby Aldermen are reviewing a policy that recommends spending $3,500 in taxpayer money to buy rings every time a sports team wins a major championship.

The issue came up because Derby athletic teams — especially the high school runners and Pop Warner cheerleaders — are winning a ton of championships.

At an Aldermen subcommittee meeting June 26, Charles Sampson, president of the Derby Board of Aldermen, pointed out that the city would be on the hook for about $22,000 to buy championship rings if it follows a written policy established in 2017.

By comparison, the City of Derby spent roughly $16,000 on its Office of Emergency Management last year.

Sampson, himself a former Pop Warner football coach, said the city wants to show its pride for winning teams — but the current policy just doesn’t make financial sense.

“We’d like to do something for these kids, and it says we’ll put up a sign for them, but I don’t think that’s enough,” Sampson said. “I think we can do a little bit more, but I don’t think $3,500 per team . . . this year would have sunk us.”

Ken Marcucio, a member of the Board of Education, and Kimberly Tovar, a Pop Warner volunteer official, both agreed to work with the Board of Aldermen and youth sports leagues to come up with a policy that put less pressure on the city to fund championship rings.

They suggested a combination of fundraising and perhaps a contribution from the school board could improve the situation.

“Our people have always been good with fundraisers,” said Marcucio, who also runs Derby Little League. “I understand the financial crunch that not only Derby, but most cities are in nowadays. Maybe the city could throw in half, and the organization could raise half for it.”

Alderwoman Barbara DeGennaro, citing a previous request by former Alderman Carmen DiCenso, suggested the city’s tax board set aside a small amount of money for such expenses.

However, it remains to be seen whether the tax board — who are responsible for setting the city’s budget — would entertain the idea.

Andrew Baklik, Mayor Rich Dziekan’s chief of staff, said he reached out to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to learn whether other cities purchase championship rings for various winning teams.

Baklik said government-funded ring buys is rare.

“Fifteen towns comparable to us do they nothing,” Baklik said. “They recognize (the winners) at an Aldermen meeting, they say congratulations to the team, and a booster club might raise money toward

During the most recent budget process, the tax board opted not to buy rings for Pop Warner cheerleaders’ national championship, saying the city simply could not afford it.

Sampson said he would discuss the issue with the tax board to get that board’s input.

The existing Derby policy is posted below.

The policy was created in an effort to set ground rules pertaining to which teams get rings. Previous to the policy, some state or national champs would get rings, others would not.

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