When you look at the law, it’s not like Whitehall had a choice in the matter.
According to Whitehall Village Attorney Anthony “Tony” Jordan, Section 72-C of General Municipal Law is worded very specifically.
The law states that Whitehall can seek $12,392.60, down from the original total of more than $15,000, in revenue from the village of Granville over its hiring of officer Mark Morrill, who had served a little more than a year with the Whitehall Police Department. It also states that the village that lost the officer is obliged to seek compensation.
“The village really has no option in the matter,” Jordan said Monday night following a meeting of the village trustees. “The law says that the village ‘shall.’ It’s a matter that they have to do this.”
Jordan said the law was written and approved through the New York State Council of Mayors, but was brought to the attention of the Whitehall board after it was discussed at a conference that was attended by Police Chief Matthew Dickinson.
“The Council of Mayors is the one who drafted the law,” said Jordan.
Trustee Kenneth Bartholomew, in a letter written to the village board along with the Granville Sentinel and Whitehall Times, said since Whitehall invested in the officer’s training, it should be compensated for Granville benefiting from the remainder of its investment.
“Whitehall invested approximately a year’s time, the cost of training, transportation to and from the training site, and his salary before getting a fully trained officer,” said Bartholomew. “The fact is Granville is way ahead. They got a fully qualified officer ready to go to work without investing any time or a dime in his training. They should pay up.”
In response to the decision by Granville to halt the sharing of services with Whitehall due to the pending litigation, Whitehall DPW superintendent Jiem Rozell said he would not change the previous relationship he has had with Granville.
“They have used our excavator before, and we have pulled that over there a number of times,” said Rozell. “Me, George and Dan get along great. Whenever they have needed or do need something now, we would definitely be willing to help them out over there.”
Rozell added that he hoped they have had a fair working relationship.
“We certainly would want it to be a wash in what we offer to each other,” said Rozell. “They might be ahead of us right now, but it’s not something that we have ever measured before.”
Whitehall water plant operator Don Williams said he had also recently offered his services to Granville.
“I’ve offered to go over there and talk to the village about the water system since I am a trained operator and they are looking into something like what we have now,” said Williams. “Maybe if I can go over there and help out it would smooth some things over.”
Village Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti also said Whitehall would continue to work with Granville if problems came up that needed their support.
“If they call us tomorrow and say that they have a problem and need our help, we’ll be there,” said Putorti. “I’m hopeful that Mr. (Jay) Niles will feel the same way. If the roles were reversed and this were something that they had to do to us under the General Municipal law, would I have bad feelings – no, but that’s the business we are in.”