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Glens Falls considering police consolidation
GLENS FALLS - Another Capital Region city is on the brink of serious financial issues. First, it was Gloversville, then Albany and now Glens Falls. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivered the harsh reality today after spending the last several months looking over the city's books. In his fiscal profile of Glens Falls DiNapoli says, "the financial condition has declined due to burdensome debt costs, the subsidization of the downtown civic center and expenses that outpace revenues."
The Mayor of Glens Falls, John Diamond is candid about the difficulties facing his city, "everybody knows that we've got about a 20% tax-exempt property base, our sales tax is limited, these are challenges that Glens Falls has had for many, many years and we just roll up our sleeves and work on it on a daily basis," he says. One of the big issues according to both Diamond and DiNapoli is the Glens Falls Civic Center. City taxpayers shell-out between $600,000 and $800,000 annually to support it but soon it will be put up for sale at auction. It seems many residents are supportive of that decision, "we don't have the amount of people we had before when it started, we can't afford to keep paying for it" says Kathy Huntington who has lived in the City for years.
Another cut being considered is likely to be controversial. The City of Glens Falls has enlisted the help of the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services to study how much it could save, what benefits and what drawbacks would arise, if the City Police Department was consolidated with the Warren County Sheriff's Department. "It's a very emotional issue, it's emotional, not only in the community but within the department, they're concerned about their future, they have every right to be concerned about that but it's going to be something that's going take some time to discuss, to be able to take a look at the information and sit down and talk about whether it's a good idea or whether it's not going to work for the city," Diamond says. Currently, there are 29 officers who protect the city which spans 3.5 miles. "I understand the fiscal part of it, we are in financial difficulty here but I don't know if the sheriff's department is going to cover the city as well as the Glens Falls Police do right now," says Huntington.
The final report from the state is due later this summer, from there the City will review the information provided and decide how to proceed. Mayor Diamond says there will be a number of public hearings before any final determinations would be made about cutting or consolidating the department.