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To keep the police or not to keep the police?

East Syracuse residents voice opinion at public forum

— The public forum held on Jan. 6 was the village of East Syracuse’s first step towards the abolishment of the police department. A standing-room-only crowd packed into the municipal building to share opinions and find out more information before a potential vote could be held in February.

No decisions were made at the meeting and Mayor Robert Tackman announced that the board wouldn’t have concrete figures to share with the public until the next public forum, to be held on Feb. 3.

“Last time this happened, different numbers were being construed by different parties,” Tackman said. “We want to make sure that there’s only one set of numbers to hand out to our residents… We looked into postponing this meeting, but we wanted an opportunity to hear people’s opinions. That way we’ll also have the chance to respond to questions [we can’t answer now] at the next meeting.”

The board wasn’t ready to share hard numbers relating to tax savings at the meeting, but Tackman estimated that about 20 percent of the village’s budget is spent on the police department. But based on previous budgets, the village could potentially save more than $1 million from the budget.

And Tackman said that due to a drop in the village’s property assessments, East Syracuse – which already has the highest tax rate in Onondaga County at $16.41 per $1,000 – could see that rate push even higher this year.

“If we were to stay where we are as of right now, we’re already looking at a 56 cent increase, or about a 3.4 percent increase in taxes if we took our budget today and billed you on June 1,” Tackman said.

The majority of people who spoke at the forum were in favor of keeping the police and several asked that the village share the exact figures for potential savings with the public before a potential vote could take place.

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