In Upper State New York, the residents of the town of Evans are upset about the growing financial crisis especially after the town was forced to borrow nearly $1 million from Erie County last month.
And like so many other places, the most popular plan to save money is to eliminate the police department and contract out with the County. A group called Evans Taxpayers United is suggesting the town can save nearly half a million dollars if it eliminates the town’s department and switches its police protection to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.
“I don’t know if this is going to be an easy sell or a tough sell,” Stan Radwan, a retired Buffalo police detective and member of the taxpayers group, told buffalonews.com.
But some are saying the problem was mismanagement of the local government and that law enforcement shouldn’t be the convenient scapegoat.
“The police force is not the issue, it was mismanagement of our government,” added Supervisor Mary K. Hosler, who is finishing her first year as supervisor. “This wouldn’t be an issue if people would have managed our town finances right over the last five years.”
The town ran out of money this year after years of borrowing to address fiscal mismanagement dating back nearly a decade. Unpaid vendors bills approached $700,000, and lending institutions refused to give the town credit.
Evans has 1.48 full-time officers per 1,000 residents in the town, which is below the national average. The average number of full-time officers in a police department serving 10,000 to 24,999 people is 1.91 per 1,000 residents, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. But the issue is more about saving money for the town, than reducing the number of officers, group members said.
Hosler said the taxpayer group does not appear to have considered civilian workers and non-labor costs, or what would happen with the town’s dispatch center. She said she wants to fully understand the town’s fiscal position before making changes.
- The town is working to improve its finances by:
- Pursuing hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursements for the water project and money spent on the November 2014 storm.
- Reducing maintenance of “zombie” homes in the town by about $200,000 a year.
- Reducing the police car fleet to 10 or fewer vehicles to save on insurance and maintenance.
- Not hiring two new officers after two retirements in the Police Department, saving about $200,000.
- Undergoing a health care audit that saved $110,000 on insurance costs.