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October 24, 2012

Malone police force not guaranteed in dissolution

MALONE — An expert told Malone residents Tuesday they should not expect to have a police department if they vote to dissolve the village next month. 

The town is not obligated to create a police force even though it is recommended in the dissolution study the Village Board commissioned earlier this year.

“Voters should assume they will not have a police department if the town is not giving some kind of assurances,” said Wade Beltramo, general counsel to the New York State Conference of Mayor.

He gave a two-hour presentation to about 35 people at Franklin Academy Tuesday night and said dissolution is ultimately a town issue because the town determines how services will be provided and the state decides how towns tax village residents.

“You’re paying and subsidizing town operations,” Beltramo said.

If the village dissolves, the town tax village owners pay goes away, so “there will be a huge source of tax savings, but not necessarily cost savings,” he said. 

Special districts would be formed for those using the service to pay for them such as street lights, sidewalks, liabilities and debt and leaf collection, so any anticipated savings might be wiped away, he said.

And as expected, police protection was the issue most asked about because residents want assurances they will have coverage if the village dissolves.

When asked earlier this week if they favor a townwide force, three Town Council members said they oppose it, and two want a cheapest solution possible — whether it’s establishing a special district or reconfiguring how the Village Police Department is structured.

If dissolution is approved, all village government goes away as of Dec. 31, 2014, and governmental responsibility reverts to the Town Council.

The town would need State Legislature authorization to create a special police district in a designated portion of town.

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