Back And Forth

LAKEWOOD – Discussions will continue between Busti and Lakewood officials on an agreement for police services.

On Feb. 25, the Lakewood Village Board tabled the proposal to approve a five-year police services financial contract agreement with the town of Busti. On Feb. 19, the Busti Town Board agreed to a financial proposal from Lakewood Mayor David Wordelmann on a long-term contract for police services. Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, said the board unanimously agreed to the proposal that will increase how much town residents – those who live outside of the village – pay toward the police department. Officials from both municipalities have been discussing a new five-year police services contract since last year. A new contract, once approved, would start in 2014.

Wordelmann said he submitted a proposal as mayor to the town to review for police services. He said the Lakewood Village Board didn’t approve the proposal before he submitted it to town officials. He said submitting a proposal was part of negotiations with town officials to reach a new contract agreement.

In November, officials from both municipalities agreed on a one-year contract extension for how much Busti pays Lakewood for police services. In the agreement, the town of Busti paid $360,000 in 2013, which was $20,000 more than it 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.

When the town of Busti paid $360,000 to the village of Lakewood for police services for 2013, it was about 28 percent of the more than $1.3 million Lakewood-Busti Police Department budget. During negotiations on a long-term contract, it was determined the police department answered around 37 percent of its calls in the town of Busti, excluding the village. Because of this number, Lakewood officials have said they would like Busti residents to pay around 37 percent for police services. Wordelmann said in his financial proposal, by the end of the five years, Busti would be paying around $490,000 for the police department, which would be around 37 percent of the department’s cost.

The mayor said future contract negotiations between the two sides will include a possible future discussion clause. He said the clause would state that at the end of three years of the contract, either side could opt to discuss a new deal or make changes to the current one. Wordelmann used the example that if mandates from New York state escalated the costs of the department, Lakewood officials could ask for more money from Busti. Wordelmann also used the example that if it was determined the amount of calls answered in Busti, excluding the village, lowered from 37 percent to 25 percent, Busti officials could ask to lower its payment.

”We will keep discussing it with Busti,” Wordelmann said.

In other village business, a public hearing will be held at 6:45 p.m. Monday on a property tax cap override proposal. Wordelmann said, like last year, village officials will look to pass a resolution to override the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap. The mayor said village officials don’t intend to exceed the tax cap, but want to pass the resolution in case there is a mistake or miscalculation made in the budget. The village’s fiscal year is June 1 to May 31.

”This is a procedural measure … to override it even if we don’t intend to go over,” he said.