Watkins Glen is the only municipality in Schuyler County to have its own police department. But the need to cut costs could mean consolidation with the county sheriff's office in the future. As our Bill Mich tells us, the village now has the resources it needs to explore that option.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Governor Cuomo is asking local municipalities to partner up and share services to cut costs. It's an idea that interests leaders in Watkins Glen and they now have the resources to explore the possibility, thanks to a state grant.
"We received $49,500 for that, so we are going to partner with the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department and do a study to see if it's worthwhile to consolidate," said Watkins Glen Mayor Mark Swinnerton.
Consolidation would mean having the police department dissolve into the sheriff's office. Currently, the department has one chief and three full time employees and costs the village around $400,000 on an annual basis to maintain. The study will determine if the plan is economically beneficial, if the police officers could ultimately join the sheriff's staff and if the same level of safety is maintained.
"Everybody has to really understand that we're not going to be doing this if our services are hurt in any way. So if we have any less coverage or response time, the board has been very clear with me that they won't support it," said Swinnerton.
The village board will be sending out proposals in the near future to three different firms who could complete the study.
"Once we get those proposals, we are going to make an award. We're hoping to make an award in the early part of November and the study will start immediately following. Hopefully we will have the study complete by April of next year, in time for our next budget year," said Swinnerton.
If the study green lights the idea and the village board approves the plan, consolidating the police department would be left up to a public referendum next year.