By Hayleigh Gowans
Since the East Syracuse Police Department abolished in January 2015, the village of East Syracuse entered into a four-year enhanced services contract with the DeWitt Police Department to provide service to the village. But following a recent vote by the East Syracuse Village Board, there is a possibility that contract may be eliminated or negotiated.
At the July 11 meeting of the village board, the board voted 3 to 2 to allow the mayor and village attorney to inform the town of DeWitt in writing of their intention to begin the process of making contract negotiations or possibly eliminating the contract.
The enhanced service contract between East Syracuse and DeWitt states that for $375,000 a year, the DeWitt Police Department will establish a 24/7 post in East Syracuse. The contract began in 2015 and is set to expire in 2018.
“I think the biggest reason I’m not in favor of canceling the contract half-way through is that we made a four-year commitment to the village that we would have this service for at least four years to get a better understanding of the needs of the village,” said Mayor Robert Tackman, who voted against eliminating the contract. “I feel the money is well spent and it gives us a car and police protection 24 hours-a-day… If we weren’t getting the services we expected, then it might be a different situation.”
Trustee James Carr, who voted in favor of eliminating the contract, said he believes the enhanced services contract an extra financial burden that the village residents should not have to undertake.
“Our village is the poorest village in the county per capita. Why should our residents be paying twice for a service that is already covered through their DeWitt town taxes? … I believe that the Dewitt Police Department will cover the village as necessary. I don’t believe there will be a lapse in protection in the village because I know the integrity of the chief and that the police won’t let that happen.”
In the 2016-17 approved budget for East Syracuse, the total budget amount was about $4.1 million, with an amount to be raised by taxes at $2.6 million. For comparison, the East Syracuse Fire Department budget was $528,089 in 2016-17. The contract with the DeWitt Police Department costs $375,000.
According to CityData.com, a website which aggregates open public records to provide data on an area, the per capita income in East Syracuse in 2013 was about $19,000, with a median household income of about $26,000.
“That’s [$375,000] a lot of money for a community of 3,000 to undertake,” said Trustee Janet Mattox, who voted in favor of eliminating the contract. “They’re [DeWitt PD] doing a great job, don’t get me wrong, but do they really need a dedicated post in the village?”
As a municipality within the town of DeWitt, Tackman said the DeWitt Police Department has a commitment to provide protection to East Syracuse, but the enhanced service contract ensures that there is always a police presence in the village in the event of a crime or emergency.
Tackman said he will soon begin discussions with other parties involved in the contract to see if there is a possibility to negotiate the contract to a lower price for the village. Carr, however, said he does not think a negotiation should be undertaken and the village should eliminate the contract if the public feels it is something that will be positive for the village.
Before any decisions will be made, Tackman said the village residents will be given all pertinent information prior to any public hearings or referendums that may occur in the future relating to eliminating the police contract.
“We’re still in the very early stages. We need to weigh our options and see what will be best for the village,” said Tackman.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019
Feb 17, 2019