Granville turns tables on police training bill

and Keith Lobdell

Granville turns table on officer claim 

After considering a municipal law regarding a bill from Whitehall for police officer training expenses, the Granville Village Board has voted to seek its own claims.

During Monday night’s village board meeting, village attorney Mike Martin said his investigation of the municipal law the village of Whitehall is citing to lay claim to reimbursement produced unexpected results.

Martin said Granville lost not one, but two, officers to Whitehall both within a timeframe allowing Granville to seek compensation. A third officer left Granville for Fort Edward. The board voted unanimously Monday to seek monies from both municipalities.

Whitehall seeks just over $12,000 in funds under the General Municipal Law after Granville hired police officer Marc Morrill from the Whitehall force. Morrill had been a member of the Whitehall force for just over a year before taking the job in Granville.

Whitehall officials were left with the impression there was a three-year limit on time to claim compensation for any officers lost from Granville. Martin said that is not the case Monday night.

The law states that if an officer was trained by one municipality and leaves before the end of three years of service to a similar municipality, then the one that trained the officer can seek compensation from the other for the funds used to train the officer.

“I talked with Matt (Dickinson, Whitehall Police chief) and said that I need to see a copy of the law and see what goes on from there,” said Whitehall Mayor Francis “Fra” Putorti. “I have to clarify the law part for myself, but in the end it will really be up to our attorneys what is going to happen.”
Putorti said he still wants to meet with Granville.

Although plans for a meeting were announced several weeks ago, Granville and Whitehall officials have yet to discuss the matter face to face.

In late August, Putorti said a meeting was to be held sometime after Labor Day. At the Oct. 5 meeting of the Whitehall Village Board, Putorti said he was still waiting to hear back.
“We have not heard anything back, yet,” said Putorti. “That’s where we stand.”
Granville Mayor Jay Niles said that the most recent communication he had received from Whitehall was in the form of a bill.

“We did receive a bill from Whitehall,” Niles said last Friday. The bill, however, after being evaluated by village clerk Rick Roberts, was found to be lacking, he said.

Niles said the board wanted to see more of an explanation as to how Whitehall officials came up with their numbers.

 “We discussed (the bill) with our attorney and the village clerk; he felt that according to common practices in accounting he did not feel it had enough information,” Niles said. Niles said the village expected to see payroll receipts and other indicators spelling out the expenses Whitehall expected to be reimbursed for. “That’s why we haven’t set up a meeting yet,” Niles said.

Niles said the communications at this point were between the two village’s attorneys as was appropriate in a legal matter.

“We want that before we have a meeting,” Niles said. Other than the bill and talks between attorneys, Niles said, there has been no interaction between the two municipalities. 

“We have had no other communication from them, nor have we tried to communicate either. It’s a legal issue and we’ll handle it at the attorneys’ level,” Niles said.  

Jordan, the Whitehall village attorney and New York state assemblyman, sent a letter to Granville officials in August informing them that Whitehall planned to file suit against Granville for monies Whitehall officials felt were owed to them under Municipal Law 72-C.

Putorti added that he wanted to make sure that people understood that there was no lawsuit between the two municipalities.
“The village is not suing Granville,” he said. “I really want people to understand that is where we are right now. We sent a letter to the Granville board.”

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