(June 8, 2006) - - The Towns of Elma and Grand Island say they don't plan to pick up the tab for the Sheriff's patrols. Other towns without their own police will face similar decisions by next year. News 4's Jodi Hovenden examines the price of public safety for towns down the road.
22 towns and villages currently use Erie County Sheriff's patrols as their primary source of police protection, but that could come to an end if the towns aren't willing to pay the price.
Jim Hartman, Erie County's director of management initiatives, said, "Why should I, as a county taxpayer, be paying for county policing for 22 other towns that don't want to have their own municipal police force?"
The county calculated the estimated annual cost of each town by the number of calls made to the Sheriff's Department.
The full cost will be phased in over three years.
Grand Island had the second-highest bill after Clarence.
Grand Island Town Supervisor Peter McMahon said, "They sent us a request for payment of $301,000 in fiscal year 2007; double that, or $602,000, in fiscal year 2008; and triple that, $903,000, in fiscal year 2009."
McMahon is among those who isn't planning on paying the county for police protection.
He says it's the primary service residents receive for their taxes.
McMahon said, "We don't get the benefit of many of the other services that the county offers elsewhere. For example, we don't have a county park. But we pay park taxes, or taxes to support the parks, just like everybody else."
Hovenden: Will you pay the money the county is asking for?
McMahon: No. No. I do not believe we will.
Hartmans aid, "What we've said [is], 'if you're not [paying], we will withdraw road patrol service from those towns."
If it comes to that, McMahon says Grand Island will have police protection in place for residents, and he believes they could fund their own full-time department for less than what the county wants to charge.