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Clay PD merger: the facts revealed

For Clay Supervisor James Rowley, it's simple: to save town taxpayers a significant sum of money, the town should merge its police force with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department.

But for the Clay Police Benevolent Association, it's not that easy. Cutting the police department, the PBA argues, means town residents will see a significant reduction in services, and, they assert, the savings aren't as great as Rowley believes.

The merger, which would make the Clay PD part of the sheriff's department and turn the existing police station into a sheriff's department mini-station, is up for a referendum vote June 23. If approved, the town would enter into a five-year deal with the county with the option to exit the contract after two. Both the state and the county have reviewed the proposal, but have deferred making a decision until after the referendum.

Rowley believes that Clay residents will save some $17 million over the next 10 years.

The PBA representatives say that's not true.

"There will be no savings in our opinion," said Lieutenant Fred Corey, a 20-year veteran of the Clay PD. "The numbers they're putting out there are one-sided. I believe it couldn't be done for the cost they say. The costs have to be borne by somebody, whether it's the town or the county."

According to the PBA, each household in the town would save about 18 cents a day under the proposal.

In addition, Corey said the current contract draft calls for a 9.2 percent administrative fee to be paid to the sheriff's department.

"That's going to negate any savings," he said.

And even if there are savings, according to PBA representative and part-time traffic officer Joe Caputo, it's unlikely taxpayers will actually see them.

"Have your taxes ever gone down?" Caputo said. "They'll find a way to take the money from [this merger] and move it to the highway department or somewhere else. They'll just shuffle it around. I don't see the benefit of that."

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