The Town of Aurora and Village of East Aurora are on the brink of another debate over the administration and cost of police services.
The latest development arose unexpectedly last week, when the Town Board voted unexpectedly March 22 to notify the village it intended to terminate the agreement for contracted police services from the village.
A letter dated March 26 from Aurora Supervisor Jolene M. Jeffe and sent to outgoing Mayor Clark W. Crook caught village officials by surprise.
"The town sort of set up a battle line here," village Mayor-elect Allan Kasprzak said. "Here's a case of no communication. They threw another dynamite stick into a dynamite shed. Any time you use words like 'termination,' it's like a punch to the gut. How are we supposed to take this?"
Kasprzak, who is a Buffalo police officer, and village Trustee Kevin Biggs, also a Buffalo police officer, were upset by the development. If the contract for administering police services is terminated, effective May 31, it could force police department layoffs or curtailed police coverage.
"Why did they do it like this, instead of just picking up the phone and calling us? The telephone is a wonderful invention," Kasprzak said of the town's move.
Terminating the contract should have been the last step, Biggs added.
Town officials have long been upset that the town has no say or actual vote on contractual matters involving the management of the police department or services -- but continues paying a substantial portion of the cost to run the police force, with the yearly cost to the town continuing to rise.
"This need was exemplified in the recent decision made in a Village Board work session to add an officer to the force without any consideration by the town," Jeffe's letter added.
The latest contract, reached in June 2007, runs through May 31 before the pact is extended automatically through 2013 -- unless either party provides 60 days notice before June 1.
In this case, the town needed to notify the village by Wednesday. Reached in Florida while vacationing, Jeffe said the town was looking to reopen negotiations on the contract and was mindful of the 60-day notice clause.
"The intent is not to terminate police service, but merely reopen the contract between the village and town," she said.