A New Approach

BUSTI – There will be a different approach taken the next time Busti and Lakewood officials meet to discuss a new police services contract.

In November, officials from both municipalities agreed on a one-year contract extension for how much Busti pays Lakewood for police services, which are provided by the Lakewood-Busti Police Department. In the agreement, the town of Busti paid $20,000 more – for a total of $360,000 – in 2013 than they did in 2012. In recent years, the annual increase in how much the town pays for police services usually only increased $10,000.

Several times last year, officials from both sides met to negotiate a long-term contract agreement. No multi-year agreement was reached, so officials from both sides agreed on a contract extension for one year, which started Jan. 1.

During most of the discussions, Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, and David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, were the principal negotiators involved. Also, Joseph Troche, Lakewood trustee, and Richard Sanders, former Busti councilman, were also involved, at times, in the negotiations.

However, in the second attempt to come to a long-term contract agreement, both the supervisor and the mayor will sit out initial talks. Both municipal officials said two members from each of the boards will meet to continue discussions without their presence. Wordelmann said Troche and Susan Drago, village trustee, will represent Lakewood. Robbins said Todd Hanson and Richard Thor, Busti councilmen, will be the town officials involved in negotiations. No date has been set for the meeting. Robbins said it should be within the next couple weeks. Because of the open meetings law, no more than two members from each board can meet at one time.

”He and I (Robbins and Wordelmann) have gone back-and-forth on it for a long time, we thought maybe we should bring some new faces into it,” Wordelmann said. ”They will start group discussions and this way we actually get more people involved, and more ideas.”

Robbins said both sides want to reach an agreement soon.

”We want to have it in place. We want to have it in place by the first of May for (Lakewood’s) budget, and we want a long-term contract for our (budget),” Robbins said.

Wordelmann said he doubts if an agreement on a new police contract will be reached by the time the Village Board starts discussion its 2013-14 budget. He said it would be nice to have an agreement by the time they pass the next village spending plan, though.

”Hopefully, before we finalize (the budget) in April,” he said. ”We start working on the budget next month. At this point, I don’t see (an agreement) getting done by that point.”