Anything But Complete

BUSTI – A seemingly done deal between Busti and Lakewood officials on police services is anything but complete.

On Monday, the Busti Town Board held its regular meeting and was asked questions from town residents about the apparent agreement between the town and the village.

”All we really did was listen to people ask questions about the police budget,” said Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor. ”Nothing was decided.”

Robbins told The Post-Journal on Wednesday he has no idea where negotiations are right now with village officials on a new police services agreement.

”I don’t know what they are thinking or what they want,” Robbins said. ”At this point, we’re not any further ahead than where we were last July or August.”

Since last year, officials from both municipalities have been discussing a new long-term contract agreement for police services. The town of Busti contracts with the village of Lakewood for services from the Lakewood-Busti Police Department. The last five-year agreement between the two entities ended in 2012. In November, both parties agreed to a one-year contract extension so officials could continue discussing a new five-year deal.

Last month, it seemed officials from both municipalities had agreed to a new deal, but evidently communication problems between officials has led to more disagreement.

On Feb. 19, Busti officials passed a resolution agreeing to a new long-term contract with the village for police services. In the deal, town officials agreed to pay more for police services.

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. In the proposal Busti officials passed, it stated town residents, excluding those who live in the village, would pay around $490,000 for the police department at the end of the contract. This total would be around the 37 percent of the department’s current cost.

However, on Feb. 25 during a Lakewood Village Board meeting, David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, said a proposal was submitted from him, as mayor of the village, for town officials 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 the negotiation process with town officials to reach a new contract agreement. During the meeting, the Village Board tabled a resolution to approve the five-year police services financial contract agreement with the town of Busti.

Robbins said now the Busti Town Board will wait to see what Lakewood officials do at their next meeting on Monday.

”It is very frustrating. I don’t know what else to say,” Robbins said. ”One step at a time, I guess.”