East Syracuse village board split on police department issue

Board votes 3-2 to not move forward with abolishing E.S.P.D. at this time

— Tackman said that he recently met with Minoa Mayor Dick Donovan to look over the East Syracuse budget for any possible cuts, but that Donovan didn’t find much in it to get rid of. He also met with North Syracuse Mayor Mark Atkinson to talk about how North Syracuse operates with its own police department and he’s planning to meet with Liverpool Mayor Gary White for the same reason.

Former East Syracuse Mayor Carl Sterling, who was in the audience at the meeting, stood up and said that while he respects the mayor’s decision to make sure the 531 votes to keep the police are accounted for, he thinks that the vote would be different if it were held again.

“Sometimes the public has to learn the hard way; something has to happen and then they’ll start to think,” Sterling said. “I am curious what the outcome would be if this were put up for vote again. I think it’s very possible that there would be a change… The board was not responsible for the tax increase. If anyone who voted to keep the police wanted to know who is responsible, all they have to do is look in the mirror. Those people are responsible.”

East Syracuse Police Chief Donald Morris spoke at the end of the meeting to make one thing clear: that the police department is not responsible for the $600,000 increase in the 2013-14 budget.

“Our budget went down $53,000 last year and we’ve gone down consecutively every year,” said Morris. “Something changed in the way we did business from last year to this year. We were here last year and our budget went down too. To say that we’re responsible is ludicrous.”

So why is the village in so much financial trouble all of a sudden? In East Syracuse’s case, it was a combination of rising state pension and insurance costs (which doubled over the last 10 years), debt that is still being paid off on the village’s renovated municipal building and pool, property assessments changing and a trend of businesses leaving the village. Carrier left several years ago and New Process Gear closed up shop in April 2012. This combination of factors puts the village of East Syracuse in a tough position.

“I took a huge hit, just like everybody else,” said Wayne Cunningham, owner of the Village Deli in East Syracuse. “Bristol laid off 1,600 people, Carrier laid off 6,000 and Bristol closed down. I’m doing half the business I did 10 years ago, and my taxes keep going up.”

As of now, there are no plans to discuss the abolishment of the East Syracuse Police Department. The next village board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7.

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