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Dispatch Center is first on Skaneateles Village chopping block

This boom's bust begins:

As of Jan. 1, 2011 it is estimated that the village of Skaneateles will lose approximately $300,000 in sales tax revenue from the county.

"I believe we must solve this problem not by raising taxes but by reducing expenses," Mayor Robert Green released in a statement this week.

The dispatch center is first up in the budget cross-hairs because of the countywide emergency dispatch services provided by the county's 911 for fire, police and ambulance calls.

"Two recent developments have made this difficult decision more palatable," said Green (in a statement).

The board's adamant decision was prompted by three factors:

1. Loss in sales tax revenue

2. The county said it would absorb Skaneateles dispatch employees into its center

3. The state is offering an early retirement incentive, which could mean severance pay for long time dispatch employees.

One resident asked the mayor if the report on the local dispatch concluding that it is a model program in the state, as well as nationally weighed into his decision.

The mayor said it hadn't, it was about dollars and cents, first saving the taxpayers and secondly securing some compensation for the soon to be disbanded dispatch workforce.

Fire Chief makes a plea

Chief Eric Sells stated his disappointment in the closing of the local dispatch appearing as a done deal by the board without hearing his department's concerns. He said the dispatch plays an important factor in his department's operations. It fields many non emergency calls for the fire chiefs, too.

"It's more than just money, it's safety," Sells said, "Dispatch covers a lot of stuff for the chiefs."

He said his all volunteer department feels strongly that this issue be brought to the residents for a vote.

Village attorney Mike Burns said it would be illegal to take this issue to referendum. The only subjects that can be put on the ballot are mandatory and permissive questions such as bonding, he said.

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