Town budget shows change in police funding for Village of Warwick

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

    WARWICK-The Village and Town of Warwick are instituting a new intermunicipal agreement that will change the way village taxpayers pay for their police service. Based on recommendations from the state Comptroller’s Office, the town will now include the cost of police service to Village of Warwick taxpayers as a line item on their town taxes. The Village of Warwick has contracted with the town for police service since the two departments merged in 1991. At first, the village paid its share based on the number of officers that patrolled the village. That changed a few years ago and the cost was then based on the number of calls received from villagers. The town is basing its police cost to villagers on the assessed value of each house. An average house in the village will pay approximately $450, according to Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, or $9.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. The village and town have been working out the details of a new police contract ever since the old one expired in March. Opinions from the Comptroller’s office forced their hand to end the contracting of services to the village, Sweeton said. There is some overlap in time and money. Since the town’s budget goes from January to the end of December and the village’s fiscal year starts in June, the village has already taxed its residents for police service through June. Mayor Michael Newhard said some of the extra money could pay for a $200,000 overage for police service last year. Each year, he said, the village and town reconcile police costs. Sometimes it is over the budgeted amount and some years it falls below. Last year’s overage put the village at a big deficit. “We didn’t anticipate that number,” Newhard said. “If we can cover that with our surplus, that would be great. But it will be up to the village.” Newhard said new agreement “makes much more sense. It’s more balanced, more realistic, and it keeps our costs in line with other municipalities. We worked hard on this for almost a year. The resolution is fair and equitable and going in the right direction.” Village taxpayers will see a reduction in their village tax rate come budget time next year. This is budget time at Town Hall. The town has proposed a $14.4 million budget, as well as an $11.6 million special districts budget. Using nearly $2.2 million from the town’s surplus, Sweeton said the board understands the burden property taxes place on people. “We used fairly conservative revenue projections and were conservative on our purchases,” he said. “This was an especially difficult year with rising fuel prices, employee retirement, and health benefit increases. Town residents who live outside of the villages would see an increase in their town taxes of 5.06 percent or $13.55 per thousand of assessed value. This is up 65 cents per thousand. A typical house would pay about $677.50 in town taxes. Residents of the town who live within the three villages would see a 3.99 percent decrease in their taxes and pay $4.63 per $1,000 of assessed value. A typical house in the villages would pay $231.50 in town taxes. This amount does not include police services for the Village of Warwick. The Preliminary 2006 Town Budget is available for review at the Town Hall as well as at the libraries in Florida, Greenwood Lake and Warwick.