The town of Clay is ending its enhanced services agreement with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department effective Jan. 1, 2012. The town board voted unanimously to begin the process to terminate the contract at its Oct. 3 board meeting.
continued If approved, the change means that the town of Clay will no longer have enhanced sheriff’s patrols or the sheriff’s substation on Route 31. It will be provided with the same protection provided to other towns in the county without their own police forces.
County Executive Joanie Mahoney said the fact that the town was opting out of the contract did not reflect any kind of failure on the part of the town; on the contrary, it represented a success story.
“This is furthering the consolidation effort,” Mahoney said. “During the merger, Clay took a very careful, cautious approach. Now, they’re seeing it’s not necessary to have Clay residents buy enhanced services to get the protection they need.”
Mahoney pointed out that several towns in the county don’t have their own police departments; Salina, Onondaga, Tully and Fabius all have protection from the sheriff’s department.
“They just pay for it with their county property taxes,” she said. “They’re not spending town dollars unnecessarily. The town of Clay is moving in that direction. It’s a very successful consolidation story.”
Rowley said he, too, felt the termination was part of the natural progression of things.
“It was always an option that the town could step down from the contract or get out entirely,” said Rowley, who is now chief fiscal officer for the county. “
Rowley emphasized that the savings at the time came from the elimination of duplicated services and overhead; however, the recession that came soon after the merger wiped out any extra money in the town’s coffers.
The former supervisor said the elimination of the enhanced services contract would do away with an unnecessary layer of taxation.
“Towns pay taxes at the state level and at the county level for police protection,” Rowley said. “To pay again at the town level doesn’t make sense. It’s each town’s decision, but in my mind, I don’t think paying at those three levels makes sense.”
As for the rest of the town budget, the board will revisit it at its Oct. 17 meeting. If approved as it stands, the tax impact for the average homeowner outside the village is estimated to be $8.14, an increase of 3.4 percent. Village residents would see an increase of $25.74 a year.