Hundreds of Clay residents filled the town board meeting where it was standing room only for people who came after 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday. The big draw -- the public hearing on the proposed plan to get rid of the Clay Police Department.
Other business was hurried through at the April 7 meeting in order to start the public hearing about the police department. Because of scheduling, the public hearing could not start until 7:56, but it was started right on time. Supervisor John Rowley introduced the matter by first reading a statement and then giving his own presentation on how much the tax payers would save if the sheriff's department took over the protection of Clay.
"Why do we need three levels of protection?" said Rowley. "Taxpayers are paying for the state, the county, and the town to protect them. This is just duplicated services."
Rowley cited many economic reasons in favor of dissolving the Clay Police Department. According to his numbers, the town would save over $1 million through 2009 if the county took over policing duties. He said this would save tax payers about $50 a year on a $250 tax bill.
"With the slowing economy, we need to save the tax payers money where we can," said Rowley. "This is our version of a stimulus package for Clay."
If the police department were to be kept, it would cost the town over $2.3 million for 2008, according to Rowley.
Sheriff Kevin Walsh was also at the meeting to give his own presentation about how the proposed absorption would actually happen. He said the current police department has 17 police officers, while towns half the size of Clay have more. Walsh said the people of Clay would not be giving up any protection and would in fact have more because county officers are always in the area.