November 2, 2012
Dryden police study questioned
Union says department needed as village looks at potential cuts
DRYDEN — The village police officers’ union says it is surprised by the Village Board’s recent decision to study the Dryden Police Department’s structure and funding.
The village recently obtained a $25,000 Local Government Efficiency Grant from the state to examine whether the police department should be reduced, dissolved or left as it is.
The Dryden Police Benevolent Association said in a public statement Wednesday that it wants the public to be aware of what the police department does and to question the Village Board at future meetings about the study.
Union President Officer Mackenzie Covert said the Village Board already gathered information in 2009 and 2010 through an ad-hoc committee, deciding in 2010 that the scope, size and strength of the department was appropriate for the village’s circumstances.
The crime rate has risen since then and is not expected to decrease, Covert and the union said, pointing to the construction of Poets Landing, a housing project on Route 38 that will have 72 apartments, and the seven residence halls at Tompkins Cortland Community College that house students.
Covert said Dryden police often help other police agencies as well as patrolling the village. She encouraged residents to attend the Nov. 13 board meeting if they have concerns.
There is no timeline for the study.
Mayor Randy Sterling, an officer with the state court system and a former patrol officer, has said the study is necessary as villages and towns look at ways to save money.
The police department’s $570,000 budget is about 40 percent of the village’s budget for this year.
The Dryden Police Department has seven full-time officers, including Chief Margaret Ryan, and eight part-time officers.Sterling said the village, at one square mile, needs a strong police force and supports having a village police department but is willing to have the issue explored.
Trustee Charlie Becker, a member of the Budget and Finance Committee — which pushed the village to apply for the grant — said he thinks the Dryden police is “one of the finest police departments in the region” but is too costly.
He thinks every village or town board must look at value received for taxes and fees.
“The cost of the VDPD is disproportionate to the village’s capacity to fund it,” he said, adding that a state Comptroller’s Office study of New York’s 556 villages showed they average 29.4 percent of property tax revenues for police costs while Dryden spends 57.5 percent of its tax levy.
“If we reduced police expenditures to the average real property tax percentage level of New York villages, we could reduce our property tax rate by nearly 30 percent,” Becker said.
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