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Town will run Police Department

Little discussion accompanied the unanimous adoption of a $13.25 million 2008 town budget Thursday, but a large component of the budget, the joint town/village Police Department, was a different story.

After a nearly hourlong executive session, the joint venture, which has been a shared department for 10 years, will be run by just the town.

The Lewiston Police Department, with a nearly $1 million budget, has long been split in funding, with 75 percent paid by the town and 25 percent by the village. Both boards share 5 0/5 0 in decisions at joint meetings, but it was agreed Thursday's joint meeting would be their last.

A $110,000 Police Department deficit prompted the discussion, according to Town Supervisor Fred M. Newlin. He said a new traffic car and officer, which had promised to bring in $130,000 for 2007, is expected to return a much lower $20,000. Newlin said the town did not budget for the promised income, but the village did.

The village agreed to cover its 25 percent share for 2007 but asked to have its contribution to the police budget lowered for 2008.

"We agreed to the relief, but the trade-off was the new agreement," said Newlin.

The split in funding was changed, with the town increasing its share to 77 percent. The village will contribute 23 percent, but Newlin said the village would be contracting for police service, rather than running the department.

The village mayor will continue on the three-member Police Commission, which also includes the supervisor and a chosen third party. "We will still have a position with the mayor on the commission," said Village Mayor Richard F. Soluri.

Soluri said it is all [one] Lewiston and the very positive joint town/village meetings would continue to discuss other common issues. "The goal is the best community," said Soluri.

Newlin said sharing municipal services to gain efficiency is something they are studying but running the Police Department was more difficult without a clear chain of command.

"Issues would become deadlocked, 5 to 5, but we were paying 75 percent of the bills. Plus, it was cumbersome. We had more generals than sergeants with 10 people administering a [police] force of eight," said Newlin.

The Town Board unanimously adopted its 2008 budget, with two members absent.

The new budget carries an increase of just under 9 percent and has no town tax and no increases in special district taxes. The budget provides 3 percent raises for elected town officials, raising the part-time supervisor's salary to $28,760, councilmen to $12,680 each and justices to $22,947 each. The town clerk will receive $50,667, the highway superintendent, $60,537 and tax collector, $44,482 for 2008.

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