There was no sheriff at the Whitehall Village Board meeting on June 15.
While Roger Leclaire was expected to make a formal presentation to the trustees concerning the possibility of turning the policing of the village over to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, a further look at the numbers by the board and Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti showed there would be no savings if a change were made.
“We talked about having the sheriff come in here and talk to us based on all the information that we had at that time,” said Putorti. “The main thing was that the current village police budget is $392,000 and the proposal from the sheriff was $350,000 for comparable protection.”
Since the initial discussions, Putorti said, the village has taken a closer look at the numbers, including expenses that would remain on the books if the village were to make a change.
“Right now, we have an officer who is on a 20-7c, which means that he was hurt in the line of duty,” said Putorti. “He is ours no matter what. If we made the change, we would continue to pay him. That runs about $52,000 a year and with that we get about $21,000 back in compensation that we would not get if we turned the policing over to the county.”
Putorti also said the village also received another $22,000 for its DWI program, which also would be no longer available if it were to make the change.
“If we went with the sheriff and the employee, we would be looking at an annual budget of $382,000,” said Putorti. “All together once you look at everything, we would be spending about $25,000 more than we are now.”
Trustee Kenneth Bartholomew also added that there would be other costs involved.
“We would be responsible for the car of the sub-station as well,” said Bartholomew. “When you look at it closer, there is no way that we could save on this. If we can’t save, we shouldn’t make a move.”
Overall, Putorti said, for the same protection, there was no other option than staying with the staus quo.
“I want the same kind of money for the same protection, and going with the sheriff is not a possible option right now,” said Putorti. “We gave it a try and thought that it might be a good way to go, but as of right now we will stay local.”
“I am pleased that we are staying with what we have at this point,” said Trustee Walter Sandford. “It’s more than the dollar amount, it’s the families that are attached to the department and have made a home here and the fact that they are local.”