Lakewood Mayor To Keep Negotiations With Busti Private

LAKEWOOD – David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, wants no more misinformation or miscommunication with Busti officials.

On Saturday, Wordelmann issued a news release to The Post-Journal stating what Lakewood officials want from Busti representatives in a new deal and what they don’t want.

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.

“It is the opinion of the village board, based on a review of the number of calls that the police department answers on a yearly basis, that the town has not paid fully for the services the village has rendered,” Wordelmann stated. “Subsequently, the taxpayers of the village of Lakewood have had to subsidize the town by thousands of dollars over the last 15-plus years. As the costs of providing police services has risen dramatically over the last 10-15 years, the inequity in payment has only been exacerbated.”

The mayor states town residents, excluding those who live in the village, pay about 27 percent of the more than $1.3 million Lakewood-Busti Police Department budget. It was determined the police department answered around 37 percent of its calls in the town of Busti outside of the village.

“During the last 30 years, the village has had to staff and maintain the number of employees that is commensurate with the level of service required to cover both the town and the village,” Wordelmann states. “At the same time, we have provided the court facilities free of charge. It should be noted that the town gets to keep the majority of the fines and forfeited bail for themselves. A figure that typically nets the town (more than) $100,000 per year.”

Wordelmann stated village officials want three things in a new long-term police services contract: “For the town to pay for police services at the rate that it costs the village to provide it; both sides agree to review the contract in the third year to make sure we are on track to avoid the continued disparity of costs and payments that have plagued this agreement over the last several years; assurances that if, at anytime in the future, the town opts out of our agreement, that the village is not left holding the bag for future expenses that we will incur due to stranded pension costs of massive layoffs, or leaving us stranded in the middle of our budget year.”

Wordelmann also included what village officials are not asking for from town officials: “To recoup any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars we feel the town has underpaid us for the last 15-plus years; for full payment of 37 percent or $490,000 in the first year. Our offer allows the town to gradually get up to that figure over a five-year period; for rent, utilities or maintenance on the court facility we now provide for free.”

Wordelmann closed his statement by stating it is imperative town and village officials continue they great working relationship that they have enjoyed in the past.

“Ultimately the most important factor the town board must remember is that we are all equal members of the town of Busti,” he stated. “They have been elected to represent all citizens of Busti, including those who reside in the village of Lakewood.”