continued “I stated at that meeting that if [East Syracuse] was going to do it, they had to do it early, in September or October,” he said. “[I told them] not to let it get past November and the establishment of our budget. And so my concern right now is, ‘Did they deliberately let this run past our budget period? And are they not interested in a services agreement?’ Because I thought I made it pretty clear to the village board that if they wanted a shared services agreement, we needed to negotiate it before November.”
The big issue for DeWitt is that police services make up the biggest cost in its budget already. Michalenko said a shared services agreement could push the town into debt – which could mean a forced increase in the tax rate.
“We can’t change our tax rate, and the police has the potential to affect our budget and the tax rate,” he said. “From a calendar standpoint, they couldn’t have picked a worse month than December [to schedule the public hearing.] The town is interested in a shared services agreement, but the time of year it is makes it more difficult for us to be flexible.”
East Syracuse residents are still split on the police issue. Lucy Forkhammer is concerned that the DeWitt police won’t be able to cover the village as well as the East Syracuse police.
“I don’t understand why this issue was thrown at us for months now after we voted almost 2-1 [in October 2012] to keep [the police department,]” she said. “And we’ve been paying the extra taxes. We’re not going to be able to afford the town of DeWitt police.”
Bernie Ment, chairman of the Save East Syracuse Political Action Committee, has been knocking on doors in the village for almost six months, passing along a petition to compel the board to revisit the police issue. He stood up to thank the board for giving the public a chance to reconsider what’s at stake with the police force.