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Lancaster 2011 budget public hearing: Part IV: Police budget
By Lee Chowaniec
Nov 5, 2010, 09:19
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Next to be scrutinized at the public hearing on the 2011 tentative budget was the police fund. The police budget will increase from $8.44 million to $9.01 million; a 7.71% increase.

While other towns are working to cut budgets and act fiscally responsible, Lancaster is increasing spending across the board. With more tax money coming in, residents are expected to pay more for the exact same services they have been receiving. Purportedly, there is police pension padding going on, facilitated by a “Super Seniority” list.

Erie County sales tax revenues make up one-third of the police budget. $2.57 million of the total $3.4 million comes directly from the county (up $229,000 this year, 9.8%). $830,000 comes from the Village of Lancaster as part of the 2003 police merger agreement between the town and village.

Of the $9.01 million police budget, $4.02 million comes from all revenues. $280,000 of Fund Balance reserves was added to the police budget leaving $4.8 million to be picked up by Lancaster taxpayers.

The police budget is increasing by $570,000 this year.

Where does some of that money go?

Of that $570,000 increase, $542,811 is attributable to increases in Personal Services and Benefit costs (health, pension, Social Security & Workmans Comp.) Police pay nothing for health insurance.

State Retirement for Police increases from $1.03 million to $1.2 million; $170,000 or a 17% increase. Police contribute nothing into the retirement system.

The total payroll increase for the department = $120,000.
1. The 3% salary increase for the 50 sworn officers in this budget comes to $104,356.
2. For Dispatch, Clerks, other it amounts to $15,098; a 2.75% increase.

Hospitalization/Medical/Dental is up from $115,000 to $155,000; a 34.8% increase.

Retirement/Sell backs increases from $100,000 to $200,000; a 100% increase.

Overtime allotment for patrol has been increased from $160,000 to $200,000; a 25% increase.

Overtime for Dispatch has been increased from $30,000 to $35,000; a 16.7% increase.

Longevity pay (pay based on years of service) is up from $72,000 to $75,000; a 4.2% increase.

State Retirement increases from $80,000 to $110,000; a 37.5% increase.

Workmen’s Compensation increases from $60,000 to $75,000; a 25% increase.


Outside of the overtime, the aforementioned are fixed (mandated). But keep in mind that outside the NYS Retirement costs, Social Security and Workmans Compensation, all other personal services and benefits are negotiated between the town and the police union at contract negotiation time. No town employee pays into the hospitalization/medical/dental premium.

The town may tell you this year that hospitalization, wage increases, longevity pay and other stipends are all mandates because of union negotiated contracts. It is the town who negotiated and approved those contracts.

For last year’s budget $525,000 was appropriated from the Fund Balance to the police budget; a police budget where spending increased by 3.75%. This year the spending increase is 7.71% and only $280,000 of reserves are being used. Why? The reserves are no less healthy than last year.

The police merger of 2003 was touted as one that was successful and would bring tax relief. In 2006 the police budget was $7.2 million. It is now proposed at $9.01 million. That is a 26% increase over 5 years.


It should also be noted that the following were negotiated between the town and police union over time and are costs picked up by the taxpayer:

Uniform Allowance
Uniforms and equipment
Shift Equalization Pay
Longevity Pay
Rate of Pay
Briefing Pay
Miscellaneous Sell-Back (limited to 12 days)
Shooting Proficiency
Personal Leave Days
Accrued Vacation and Unused Holidays
Bereavement Pay
Sick Leave Sick Bank (Captains only)
Sick Leave Upon Retirement
Death Benefits
Life Insurance (Captains only)
Health Insurance
Retirement Benefits
Education Incentive Pay

Next: Part IV: Debt Service and closing comments

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