New Paltz Town Councilman Kevin Barry recently proposed that the town stop funding the community police department in June.
The proposal, made on Nov. 8 at a Town Board Public Hearing on the budget, aims to motivate the New Paltz Village Board to share a greater financial responsibility for the department, which serves both the Town and Village under an enduring agreement.
New Paltz Police Chief Joseph Snyder said while the Village does use the police department most “based on calls and manpower,” he believes Barry’s proposal would force the village to take up the costs of the department after the first half of the year.
He said he thinks there are other ways to remedy the “ongoing” debate about police department costs without putting residents’ safety in jeopardy.
“We have a community to provide protection and a service to. It would be unsafe to propose not providing police service to our community,” Snyder said. “There are other ways to accomplish the funding issue, for starters, consolidation of the town and village will save money and then take away the issue of the town and village when there will be only one community.”
Snyder said he was also bothered by the last minute nature of the proposal which came as the annual budget process was being completed. He said this was a concern for the futures of his employees.
“This is not fair to our community without having the ability to be heard nor is it fair to members of our department that have families to take care of as well,” Snyder said. “The uncertainty of not knowing if you will have a job in six months is not fair to employees.”
Although she said she was surprised Barry brought up the idea and does not support it, Town Supervisor Susan Zimet said he is right about the current imbalance of funding between the two
“Councilman Barry is correct about the iniquities of the police costs,” Zimet said. “It is unfair that the majority of town residents have to pay a higher percentage of the police budget when the majority of the cost is for concentrated area in the village.”
However, she said she believes he made the proposal out of “frustration” with the village government and wanted to use the budget to demand “equity in taxation.”
Zimet said they are looking into other ways to defray costs such as legislation which allows them to charge businesses which necessitate police services, as well as figuring out how to better use both the campus and town police to increase cost-efficacy.
She said future police funding will be “dependent” on the outcome of the consolidation process and vote they are currently working on.
Snyder said he feels the contention among those involved is the root of the problem and that they must work together to solve the problems they are facing.
“I think that the town and village need to come together as one community and resolve this issue,” Snyder said. “Due to their disagreement on consolidation, the police department becomes the punching bag to their issues.”
Barry could not be reached for comment.