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November 25, 2012

Policing idea resurfaces

MALONE — Creating a police district where nonprofit agencies pay a fair share of the expense is under consideration in the Village of Malone.

Dissolution-study cost savings are fueling a push for shared services and consolidation of efforts between the village and Town of Malone, and a committee assigned to look at all options is eyeing police coverage.

A referendum vote to dissolve the village was defeated earlier this month, but some of the information contained in the study leading to that vote suggested the town seek state permission to create a special patrol area paid by those who would benefit from the service.

Other New York communities looking at dissolution to rein in high taxes may not have asked for such permission; the State Department of State says it has not been granted since the 1930s.

Mary Scharf, a Town Council member on the Shared Services Committee, recently suggested the entities pursue through the State Legislature creation of a district in the existing village boundaries and perhaps a little beyond its border.

She said the users would pay for the service, including the nonprofit and tax-exempt entities that occupy about 50 percent of the village’s property base.

Scharf said 48 percent of the village budget goes toward the cost of the Village Police Department, but only half of the assessed property in the village is taxed for it.

Village Board member and committee member Joe Riccio said going after nonprofits, such as Alice Hyde Medical Center, might be counter-productive since it has “an already strained budget.”

He said targeting a major employer with an additional fee could lead to loss of jobs and the related drop in retail spending and inability to pay taxes, so “what did you really gain?” he said.

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Riccio would rather see a re-examination of payment-in-lieu of taxes agreements that may have expired but are still being enjoyed by certain entities.

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