NEW FAIRFIELD - A second petition calling on taxpayers to approve an all-Connecticut state trooper form of policing New Fairfield will be presented to voters in May. The three-member Board of Selectmen plans to meet next week to set a date for a referendum on next year's town and school budgets, and add the petition as a separate question. Last month, an earlier petition signed by 22 taxpayers was declared "unlawful" by town attorneys based on some of its language. The second, modified petition, endorsed by 44 taxpayers, was approved for referendum."The whole purpose of the petition is to give the taxpayers the chance to make a decision," Robert Burke, a member of the New Fairfield Taxpayers' Association, said Wednesday. "We have a problem with turnover, stability and public safety. An all-state trooper police force would stop the constant turnover and improve safety." Burke said the town would also benefit from state subsidies in maintaining the force. First Selectman Peggy Katkocin, who has favored retaining some form of local police force, said last month if taxpayers support the petition, the town would have no choice but to negotiate with the police union and go with the all-state trooper program. New Fairfield's police officers currently have a contract with the town that expires in 2006. Police union president Officer Tim Mortara, who has been cautious about having an all-state trooper program, emphasized Wednesday the importance of the contract."We still have to negotiate with the town when the contract runs out,'' Mortara said. "Everyone's in a tough spot. It doesn't do any good for us to be replaced by troopers. I was planning to stay in New Fairfield for 25 years or more.'' Twice, in 2001 and 2002, residents defeated proposals to form an independent police department. Katkocin has expressed support for a mixed force of town police and state troopers and town officials have been working out the cost of several scenarios. One plan for a mixed force, announced last month and subject to change, was estimated to cost $1 million, a savings of about $119,000 on next year's proposed police budget. Another, providing for an all-state trooper force, would cost around $818,000, a saving on the police budget of just over $381,000. Resident state trooper programs, now enforced in 58 communities, allow the trooper to operate as a town's top law enforcement officer and supervise local police staff. A total of 81 communities in Connecticut are covered by state police, including those in the resident trooper program. Contact Brian Saxton at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (203) 731-3332.