Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack announced Tuesday night the town would be pulling its four police officers from the Rockland County on April 15 unless there was a signed contract for 2012. The Clarkstown Town Board voted in favor of the action. Gromack said he was prepared to return the police officers to duty on the town police force unless the county produces the $3.1 million necessary to reimburse the five towns for the officers they provide.
Clarkstown’s action follows that of Orangetown Town Board, which voted last week to remove its officers because of the absence of the annual contract. Gromack said the other three towns in the county are expected to pass similar resolutions within the next week.
“We also have been operating without a contract from the county executive,” said Gromack. “We’re into the third month of this year and we still don’t have a contract and that’s not a good position for us to be in.”
Up until last year, Gromack said the county reimbursed the town fully in past years for the officers and had signed annual agreements. He said Rockland did not reimburse the town for $168,000 worth of expenses Because of the county’s financial troubles and its growing debt, he said the continuation of the task forces is uncertain.
Although legislators found $2 million to fund the task forces, Gromack said the District Attorney has not been able to confirm he can use $1 million of county seizure funds to make up the balance.
“What we’ve said was unless they can somehow close that gap we can’t keep funding county programs because we have responsibility to our budget and our residents,” explained Gromack. “We’ve been trying ever since to find out if the county is going to close the gap using county seizure funds of $1.1 million.”
The towns began discussions last year when County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said he was cutting the budget and removing the funding for the units. He removed the task forces from his proposed 2012 budget. Law enforcement officials rallied to have the units reinstated, which the legislature did.
The resolution also noted several other programs the county had funded in the past that have been eliminated or for which may not be funded. The additional programs listed were the Board of Elections costs, the countywide mosquito control program and Hi-Tor Animal Care Center. Gromack said the elections expenses alone could run between $300,000 and $500,000.