Tempers flare at East Syracuse board meeting over taxes

Village will hold annual fireworks show July 13

— About 40 people packed the board room in the East Syracuse municipal building on June 3 for the village’s monthly meeting. The topic of the village’s recently – cancelled fireworks was on the agenda, but that wasn’t what brought the masses in. They were all there because they had just received their first tax bill of the 2013-14 fiscal year - and the fact that they will all have to pay 22 percent more than last year has finally hit home.

“Do I tell my daughter she can’t go to summer camp this year?” said Mike Cramer, a village resident. “Do we not go away for the weekend on our family vacation? Where are the 560 people that voted to keep the police department? I don’t see them here – I see about 40 people that can’t afford to pay their taxes.”

Nearly everyone who spoke during the 45 minute public comment portion of the meeting urged the board to bring the referendum to consolidate the East Syracuse Police Department with the DeWitt Police back up for a vote. Last October, East Syracuse residents voted to keep the department, which if abolished, could have saved the village over $1 million this year.

“There was a lot of misinformation passed around during that referendum, and the biggest bit of misinformation is that police mergers don’t work,” said village resident Bernie Ment. “We sit right in the middle of the Town of DeWitt. We have officers to the North, South, East and West all around us. Explain to me why we need a separate department when we can be covered just as well as DeWitt?”

In 2008, voters in the Town of Clay approved a proposal to merge their police department with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department. The town was able to cut taxes and expects to save $17 million by 2018. And in 2009, James Rowley, former supervisor of the town of Clay and the architect of the merger plan told Eagle News that the transition had gone “Swimmingly well…it simply couldn’t have gone any better.”

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