Tuesday, November 13, 2007

FROM TODAYS JOURNAL NEWS...GREENBURGH/DOBBS FERRY LOOK TO SHARE

Greenburgh, Dobbs Ferry look to share some police services

By GERALD MCKINSTRY
THE JOURNAL NEWS


(Original publication: November 13, 2007)
In a move that could one day save taxpayers money and change how governments work together, Greenburgh and Dobbs Ferry are considering sharing some police services.


The town and village are applying for a $100,000 state grant to study the feasibility of sharing manpower within the two police departments.


"It's the start of the end of municipal border wars," Supervisor Paul Feiner said. "Within the next couple of years, you're more likely to see things shared."


Dobbs Ferry is expected to approve the application tonight, and Greenburgh is expected to do so tomorrow. If approved, the project will cost the town and village $10,000, which will be divided equally.


Greenburgh is made up of six villages, each with its own government, emergency protection and other services.


The grant application is not about consolidating any of those, Feiner said, but rather a way to look for savings and reducing some redundancies within the two police departments.


Feiner said Greenburgh and Dobbs Ferry could apportion dispatchers at night or some police units. He said the study would help determine exactly what could be shared and how much it would save.


Dobbs Ferry Mayor-elect Scott Seskin said there were duplicate services within the village and town and he believed that identifying them and implementing possible changes was a way to stabilize rising property taxes. It was certainly worth consideration, he said.


"We need to go ahead and save money where we can," Seskin said yesterday. "We have to look at the numbers. We need to show how it's going to affect us."


A study was the first step, he added.


"It's something everybody has got to be on board with," Seskin said. "This is very, very initial. This is how it begins."


The shared-service movement gained momentum throughout the state in recent years, and Gov. Eliot Spitzer in April established a commission to look for ways to create partnerships among local governments.


The Department of State administers a grant program - with $25 million this year - that is supposed to find tax savings and efficiencies through shared programs, cooperatives, mergers, consolidations and eliminations.


To date, grants have been awarded to communities to investigate matters like shared sewers, building and highway maintenance, police and other services.


Dobbs Ferry is no stranger to such talk, either. Earlier this year, it worked with its neighbor to the north, Irvington, on a similar study. That report, completed in July, looked at different scenarios including sharing police, contracting out and merging the two departments.


Under the different scenarios, it was estimated that each village could save from $50,000 to more than $600,000.


Mayor Erin Malloy said Irvington recently decided against merging and sharing services because there were serious concerns that the village would lose coverage. She said the village would look for other ways to save money.


"The biggest concerns was that the gains we might achieve would be offset by the distractions of a larger area to be policed," Malloy said. "There were some concerns of losing community policing."


Dobbs Ferry has 10,600 residents and 28 police officers while Irvington has 6,600 residents and 23 officers.


Feiner said applying for the grant was the "easy step" because "nobody objects to studies."


He said the tougher road might be ahead and he hoped this served as a "wake-up call" to leaders that taxes might be driving people out of Westchester County.


"There's a point when people are going to say we can't afford it anymore," he said.

41 comments:

hal samis said...

It is true that many County residents are being taxed to the hilt.

It is also true that Greenburgh needs to find ways to reduce expenses.

It is also true that there is no cost if other governments, be they Federal or State, (they are very generous with tax dollars) are willing to fund studies to find ways to "save" money.

It is also likely true that this study to merge Police department functions in Greenburgh/Dobbs Ferry will be funded by grant money and thus will not be a direct burden to Greenburgh residents.

However:

It is true that what a study concludes may not be adopted as is cited in the same article...where the study for merging with Tarrytown was rejected by the participating villages.

Advocates for the Comprehensive Plan take note: plans and studies are no guarantee that recommendations will be adopted, will save money or that the communities can afford to implement.

So whereas there is no particular downside merely to conducting another study on merging Police departments, an outcome of a positive result is likely dubious.

More important, though, is when are politicians going to be brave enough to challenge what is the real cause (read waste) in the expanding police department budget and that means taking a tough bargaining position with the appropriate unions, i.e. PBA.

Greenburgh is not NYC, not Yonkers, not New Rochelle and the occurence of violent crime here poses far less of a threat -- although never an impossible event. Still, the Department pays exceedingly well for a low crime area: this compensation being for the lowest number of annual work days, the shortest fully vested retirement period, the highest costing overtime awards with the end result that taxpayers are burdened by the highest retirement pay scales and secured benefits.

These are the problems that should be addressed; these are the areas that demand change. Not retroactive as that would be unsellable, but going forward. We can no longer afford to offer recruits the same package as has been offered in the past.

Looking into this and getting tough with the unions is something that needs no costly study to affirm.

And when the tough new Ethics Laws were passed by the Town Council earlier this year, they found no discomfort with preventing officials and candidates from accepting campaign contributions from unions because no one would "recognize" that unions had "business" before the town.

And the PBA, by some odd coincidence, contributes to all.

As we go forward with the 2008 budget, be aware that the underlying problems are not confined to just one Department. I've singled out the Police because the blog topic/news article is a good jumping off point.

What is true of a budget analysis is that by focusing on the trees, no one ever looks at the forest and takes comfort from the belief that 70-80% of the budget is unassailable because of the State and union contracts. While the State is probably off limits, the unions should not be immune -- despite the votes they claim to marshall. Contracts are not forever; it is an area that we need to look at, not walk away.
And it is an area that is as much as "appearance of impropriety" to campaign solicitation as receiving contributions from developers and others who "have business before the town".

hal samis said...

whoops, correction! Dobbs Ferry and Irvington prospective merger.

Anonymous said...

Hal, while on the topic of pensions, what is the future tax burden arising from the retirement benefits for our long-term town employees, such as our supervisor or board members?

Anonymous said...

I love this guy Hal. He is an expert on every topic. He writes on a subject and people think he knows what he is talking about. His comments about the police contract are way off base. Perhaps Hal, do some research before you comment on a issue you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

.
Yes unions are allowed to give donations to candidates why,so no one goes against the union wants,
Is this fair.
We have to stop all these avenues asap since we the tax payers are running out of money.
Unions have taken over all the jobs and we cannot continue in this manner.
Some one from the town should look into this first to lower our taxes.
Break everything down.
How many cops.
How many cruises.
1 cop to a cruiser
How many cruisers in one area at one time.
This should be studied thoroughly .

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous 3:41,

Which of my comments about the Police Department contract are way off base?

Sending the love back to you.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous at 3:31,

Don't get the idea that I am arguing against pensions. 20 year town employees are entitled to them. However, if the level of their pension was derived from only salary, that is one thing. Most town employees who earn salaries in excess of $80,000 are not employees who are eligible to earn overtime or be paid just for being on "stand-by". However, this is the common practice in the Police Department where overtime has boosted the average pension retirement cost to $125,000 per employee plus medical. The common practice is to award overtime to senior staff which earns overtime at a higher rate than those less eligible. Ok, let the senior officers get first crack. Nothing wrong with that...nothing unless you realize that pension benefits are calculated on the annual compensation levels realuized in the years nearest to their retirement. Thus, those earning the highest salaries (being the senior officers) get the largest amount of overtime compensation because they are first in line to be granted overtime and the overtime, itself, is calculated on their higher salary levels. AND THEN, their pensions are computed on the most highest compensation which, in turn, leads to a higher pension and, in turn, a greater cost to taxpayers.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the overtime list, are the most junior officers; those earning the least in salary and being those who are more likely to need the overtime to supplement their salary.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 3:41 PM,

These are FACTS or at least from the Town of Greenburgh's 2008 tentative budget, which you may easily verify by downloading from the Town's web site.

From page 56, if you total the amounts for "accounts" 100.1 through 101.1 you get a total of $ 10,858,344. This represents the direct cash compensation to the Town's total police force. (If I have made an arithimetical error, please feel free to point it out).

Add to that the overtime of $1,004,250 plus the holiday pay of $337,885 plus the "uniform allowance" of $134,075 less the reimbursed police overtime and other of (accounts 1520.14 and 1520.15) of $76,675 and $70,000, respectively, and you come to a total of $12,187,879. Now we must add the current cash costs of "fringe" benefits, such as pension, medical, etc at approximately 40% of base pay (and this is conservative given that police may retire at half pay after only 20 years of service) and that adds another $4,343,000 (40% times $10,858,340). Thus the TOTAL NET COST to the Town of Greenburgh taxpayers is approximately $16,530,879, (Please check my math and tell me I'm wrong.) For 124 officers, that an AVERAGE ANNUAL COST of $133,300. To that you need to add about $21,000 per officer for their post employment medical benefit, giving a true CURRENT annual cost of about $154,000 per officer. Town of Greenburgh taxpayers - do you really understand what your public services are costing you?

So please tell me where my FACTS are incorrect. Otherwise, let the public debate as begun by Mr. Samis continue.

Anonymous said...

And what about Feiner's pension???

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 7:20

Your math is correct. It is expensive to police the town of Greenburgh. What is incorrect is Hal's statement about how overtime is assigned, that the dept works the least days and about the rate of pay. Greenburgh cops work more days than most departments and their salary is in the middle compared to other departments within the County. Hal claims that since the crime rate is lower than some other areas in Westchester that the cops should make less money. If the crime rate goes up should they earn more? They recieve fair compensation for performing a dangerous and often thankless job. THe numbers you quote from the budget are not out of sink with what other officers within this County make. If you want to retain qualified police officers you have to pay them.

hal samis said...

Dear 7:43,

How many days a year do Greenburgh cops work?

Correct this assumption:
one year = 365 days
one week = 7 days less 2 = 5 days;
say, 3 weeks of vacation, 7x3 = 21
days or:

365 - 21 days vacation = 344
52 weeks - 3 weeks vacation = 49
weeks x 2 non work days (pick any two) = 98 non work days per week.

365 - 21 - 98 = 246 working days
less, say 10 holidays = 236 days.
Oh sorry, I presented the corporate world. Let's look at the Greenburgh union world.

Now, expert, how many days a year BEFORE OVERTIME do you think Greenburgh Police officers work?

Would you rather be a policeman in New Rochelle, Yonkers, White Plains or, Greenburgh? The point is not Police pay incentivized by danger but to factor the consequences of a lesser risk environment into the overall picture. Police that serve in higher crime districts should be compensated for assuming higher personal risk. However, Greenburgh or Scarsdale et al should not have to pay the same rates as those municipalities that present a greater danger to officers, otherwise, with that theory, enlisted men in Iraq should be paid more than corporate officers. The point is not about degree of danger, per se; the point is that it is a relatively safe assignment working in Greenburgh and that taken together with all the other goodies, being a Policeman in Greenburgh is a pretty decent job. However, there is also a point when the compensation gets out of line with the taxpayer's ability to pay. Not everyone can afford a Cadillac which is why Chevrolet is still selling cars. Or, if you live in Edgemont, not everyone can afford a BMW which is why Honda is still selling cars. My assumptions have to do with what Greenburgh decides to do; not should it follow the greater fool theory around the County. The 2008 Budget and subsequent year Budgets are about taxes in Greenburgh, not elsewhere in the County.

Now, since I am exchanging comments with an expert who disagrees with what I put forth,
How IS overtime assigned? What about the rate of pay? Show me how I am wrong? A mere anonymous denial scores zero for credibility.

The idea is to look at how the Police department employees ARE compensated, how often they work and even if there is a difference in pay among those who assume risk and those that do not, say sitting at a desk. The anonymous blogger is playing a game by pointing elsewhere in the County because it is the same union that represents its members in negotiations. Nor do I intend to compare the results to the sweet deals that other unions have carved for themselves. My purpose is merely to show what an expensive deal is in place, with the hope that going forward with new hires, the Town will not be so generous, not because it has become venal but because it simply cannot afford it. And if all the Police quit, are there that many jobs awaiting in those more generous and wiser Westchester communities that represent the competition for staffing? Somehow I think that given the same money and the same seniority, if the opportunity presented itself, a New Rochelle Police Officer would still choose Greenburgh as the place to work.

But don't despair, I'll be moving on to DPW shortly. But while I'm still discussing the Police, perhaps you would care to take advantage of this opportunity to PROVE how I'm wrong. Failing that effort, at least something more substantial than merely saying I'm wrong.

And, myself and most people who work for others for a paycheck, the money is the reward; I can live with thankless.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think White Plains is more dangerous than Greenburgh?

Anonymous said...

A study should be done on how many cops work inside police Headquarters and not on patrol.
There are alot. Ask how many patrol cars are on the road at one time. I think 7, for the whole Town.
From Valhalla to Yonkers and Tarrytown to White Plains. Thats a big area to cover. guess what happens when they send two of these officers to the hospital? they run short. Also I hope you don't need the Police on a holiday, they really run short.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

I will agree wih your statement that being a Greenburgh cop is a decent job. Unfortunately that is about all that is correct in your posting. Greenburgh cops work on average 252 days a year before vacation. Vacation time ie number of days is determined by seniority like eveery other job police or non police. Officers receive holiday pay to compensate them for working holidays. They do not just get they day off like private sector employees.

I must admit I am perplexed by your Greenburgh, New Rochelle and Yonkers comparison. Greenburgh police are not paid by the crime rate or the level of danger. Risk in policing is hard to quantify as I am sure you are aware.

The Greenburgh contract is negotiated with the Town by the PBA. There is no County organizattions that negotiates for the different PBA's so your assumption is wrong. They do not follow the herd mentality but rather negotiate a contract that is fair to the Town and its members. One only has to look to NY City to see what happens when the police are not paid fairly. They leave in large numbers taking with them vast amounts of experience. Greenburgh has benefited fro this practice for years hiring many former NY City police officers thereby saving Greenburgh taxpayers thousands in training costs. Perhaps if we try to lower the police compensation package Greenburgh will become the new traing ground for the area. departments I am not suggesting the sky should be the limit as I am a taxpayer as well, however we must stay competitive with the surrounding departments.

You should realize that many of the "perks" you complain about were recieved during collective negotiations were the PBA gave up a benefit to recieve a particulaur item.

Overtime is assigned on a rotating list basis for most assignments. It is not given out-right to the senior man. It is assigned as equtably and as fairly as possible. AS for being paid for "standing by" that just does not happen.

I know I am not going to change your position but perhaps you will do further research before you make statements that have no basis in fact.

hal samis said...

Anyone like to take a stab at guessing how many days a year Greenburgh Police officers work?

Our blogger expert seems loathe to answer other than to say I'm wrong.

Come on, take a guess, the answer will be enlightening.

Anonymous said...

Hal, I think the " expert" answered you. I believe he attacked many of your assumptions. I guess this is one topic that you just like to pontificate on but have no substance.

Anonymous said...

Samis is out of his league with the 'expert'

hal samis said...

It seems like it is the same old attack mode when either the facts aren't there or the answer is not one that "interested parties" want widely known.

"Greenburgh cops work more days than most departments" is the answer that the "expert" gave.

Well how do we know; we should just take an anonymous blogger(s) at their word?

These kind of answers only confirm that I am on to something.
So expect more pontificating and we'll let the Public decide whether I'm out of my league.

Nothing wrong with letting taxpayers know what they're paying for is there?

Anonymous said...

Hal, Maybe you did not read my post. THe average Greenburgh cop works 252 days before vaction days. I think I was quite clear. You cant have a exacxt number. The number of days varies by the division they work in. The very least amount an officer can work is 248 the most 254 for an average of 251. I hope that answes your qustion. I am still waiting for you to address the other points in my post.

Anonymous said...

I think long before we cut police, we need to look at parks and recreation, espcially TDYoung center. Lets not kid ourselves, there is a good chance those costs will get moved to the A budget.

Anonymous said...

12:20 are you saying that a police person just get 2 weeks vacation.BS

Anonymous said...

I am very concerned about Morgan's proposed "Village first" policy. If Town facilities have any extra capacity, they should be downsized.

Anonymous said...

WHERE DID THIS VILLAGE FIRST ISSUES COME ABOUT FRANCIS. I have read nowhere that he favors the villages over the unincorporated . He lives in unincorporated. IF ? trying to have open government and good dialog which is poorly lacking with the villages is a problem then you should resign.

Anonymous said...

Before posting why don't to call Morgan and ask his position. OH I forgot that would not serve you well and there would be nothing to bitch about. Just ask Plaskett that nasty b. She will post any lie I hope the executive committee removes her and Morgan sues her ass.

Anonymous said...

There is no need to use profanity. What has been made crystal clear is that the villages have more votes.

Anonymous said...

One, Morgasn never said that he has a village first policy. That is the latest slander of the losers.

Two, there were many more votes in the unincorporated area, and they also went to Feiner and his slate.

The losers wil have to find new excuses. Better yet, they should recognize how badly Bass and Barnes and their sponsors, Bernstein and the Edgemont-CGCA spokepersons, have served them

Anonymous said...

If the looser ran without the help of Bernstein and company maybe they would have made out better.
They have to learn by their mistakes that you never follow a looser.

Anonymous said...

I think cops get paid for their holidays because they are working while we are off spending time with our friends and families.

Anonymous said...

If the police stopped writing tickets how much money in income would the town lose???

hal samis said...

I think that people who work in CVS or nurses in Hospitals or at the check-out in Pathmark and soldiers on duty also get paid for working holidays while we are off celebrating them with our families -- they just don't paid anywhere near as much.



As for the idea that revenue would be lost if the Police stopped writing tickets, then if you want to turn it into an absurd economic model, what do you think the result would be if we were to capitalize the ticket income (and there are additional sources of Police Department revenues) against a $15 million budget. Here's the choice: the Town takes the $15 million and was able to buy 10 years of cds and earned at least 5% interest (WITHOUT compounding) or it takes $15 million and invests it in the Police Department so that it can get traffic ticket income. And let's say the Police Department also generates $500,000 in revenue (which it doesn't) but you got a whole lot of other services thrown in for nothing, some of them vital. Good deal? Not by the numbers. Because if you invested the money in the cds, you got the $500,000 of interest every year or $5 million of return in ten years whereas every year the operating budget of the Police Department would rise so that $15 million, using the increase from 2007 to 2008 which is $1 million, would become $16 million in the second year etc; a part the increase is due every year to a percentage of the force retiring and becoming eligible for lifelong benefits including medical. And just because the Police write tickets, that's not the end of the expense. You have to have a Court System to process them or hear appeals and this is also a big expense. So, on an economic basis, it is clearly less expensive to not write tickets.

And to extend this even more insanely, it would be far less expensive to make the Edgemont home owners whole for their losses than to assign officers to protect them, to apprehend the perps, convict, judge and incarcerate them.

Just playing with you.

Conclusion: a Police Department should not be viewed as a revenue generator because on that basis there is not even a shred of justification.

The Town loses money on both apprehending criminals and traffic tickets.

hal samis said...

Still not convinced?

Then take a look at the Town's capital budget and you'll see the non-operating items like police cars, mobile command centers etc.

One might even say that if Willy Sutton robbed banks because "that's where the money is"; then it is equally telling that criminals should migrate to communities which can afford to spend significant outlays on their Police Department. Such unchecked spending is an equally good indicator of "where the money is".

Good night from the land of jabberwocky.

Anonymous said...

Does the poice dept. have certain officers assigned ,at all times to patrol affordable complexes.
Does the state pay their salary or do we the tax payers?
If we are paying the salaries it is wrong to have this going on at these complexes.
They have their own private police at our expense.
If this is true this should be one of the avenues to get this policing done with federal funds,not resident tax payers.
Please have someone answer this comment because if it is so we can save 3 salaries and lower our taxes some.

Anonymous said...

Check into the budget lines for the PD.carefully.
We are being raped loyally,by their figures.
What ever they had last year should be topped this year,
Let the persons who have 20 years of service retire.We the tax payers pay for their pensions.
Make it mandatory that the police person lives in Greenburg,this way by them paying taxes the way we all do will contribute to their salary and pensions.
How many police persons live in the town and pay taxes here.
Their answers will be we can't because the taxes are high,yes but they can live outside and collect a salary and pension from the resident taxpayers.
Is there not something wrong with this picture.
Make it a law that these individuals live in the town they serve,and maybe they would not be so free with OUR money.

Anonymous said...

If its 20 and out, when does Feiner leave???

Anonymous said...

Sorry Feiner is an elected official.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the State police I was very happy to see them patrolling the Highway to Heaven this past week. So we do have enough state police to do the job well.
This is a very dangerous highway,
Thank you State polce I hope this will be part of you assignments to keep this highway safe.
By the way the Highway to Heaven is the Sprain Parkway.

Anonymous said...

I would say that more than half of the police force lives in town whish is probably better than other PDs. Also we live in a very afluent town where the police may not be able to aford to live.

Anonymous said...

I think you have a wrong count as to how many police live here in Greenburgh.

Anonymous said...

THE police may live somwhere in Westchester but not Greenburgh.
If they lived in the area they could be yelling just as much as the residents about how much money is paid out in salaries,benefits and pensions.

Anonymous said...

Question for Hal Samis
Do you think it is wasteful for the Police Dept, to train officers to be like firefighters when the firefighters are already trained?
Is this duplication of service?

Also to answer your question, I think the police work 0 days a year. They might be on duty for 250 days a year but I've never seen them do any work. lol

THE TRUTH said...

HAL, IS JUST UPSET BECAUSE HE COULD NEVER BECOME A COP. COPS SHOULD MAKE AT LEAST 100,000 AYEAR IF NOT MORE.HAL BEFORE YOU BLOG GET YOUR FACTS.NO NEED TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT STUFF YOU DONT UNDER STAND.WHEN YOU GO TO ACEDEMY AND PUT YOUR TIME ON THE STREET YOU COULD TALK.BUT THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.YOU DONT LIKE COPS BECAUSE YOU WERE PROBALLY ISSUED TICKETS.