BY CAROL MCILMURRAY
CLARKSTOWN- After two months of publically clashing over police oversight and personnel issues, the Clarkstown Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and Clarkstown Town Council have agreed on $2.75 million in cuts to the $49.3 million police budget for 2017.
Supervisor Hoehmann announced at a town workshop Tuesday that the cuts will come from retiring between 10 to 15 police officers; hiring new police officers at lower salaries; and changing how overtime is scheduled, among other changes. The budget changes are not official until voted on by the board later this fall.
Announcement of the agreement came minutes before the Bonadio Group consulting firm presented a 39-page financial review of the $49.3 million police budget, in which the firm estimated a possible savings of $5.4 million.
Acting Police Chief Mahon, members of the police department, local PBA and the Clarkstown government negotiated the agreement during several closed door meetings leading up to Tuesday’s workshop. Clarkstown PBA President Ray Laschet commented that police understand savings are important during these tough financial times and emphasized that public safety will not be compromised by the budget cuts in the agreement.
Police Chief Michael Sullivan, who was suspended in July, sat in the audience with a few dozen supporters. Sullivan has publically clashed with the Town Council over the hiring of Bonadio Group and was not a part of the budget discussions. He assailed the financial review in a 90-minute video interview with the Journal News earlier this week.
The cuts amount to 5 percent of the $49.3 police budget. Clarkstown is the state’s largest town police force and consists of 163 full-time officers and 24 full-time civilian employees. Hoehmann said it was possible for more savings in the Clarkstown police budget and more cuts could be put in place in coming years.
Town officials also said they anticipate the town budget to have no tax increase this year thanks in part to the reduction in police spending.
The budget cuts and the Bonadio Group report will open to public discussion at the upcoming October Town Council meeting.