Without staff cuts, the City of Jamestown may have to seek concessions from its Police Department union, according to Mayor Richard Kimball.
Police Chief William Mac-Laughlin told the City Council during Monday's work session that he opposed any personnel reductions.
Kimball had proposed eliminating 10 officers and said that without reductions, the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association would have to review its pay scale.
"Salaries are a concern. The Jamestown Police Department has very high salaries," Kimball said. "We need to go to the bargaining table and tell the union, 'We are proud of the job that you do, but we have to be reasonable in trying to keep our costs down.' "
Responding to the mayor's comments Tuesday, PBA President John Ferraro said, "Our salaries are slightly below the average police officer in New York State, according to the Police Conference of New York."
"We are currently at 67 officers (on the force), and three of them are (funded by) grants," he said. "If those grants expire or are not renewed, we will be down to 64. We couldn't function."
MacLaughlin said staff reductions would damage the inroads the department has made in community policing and would force cuts in some programs such as the one against domestic violence.
Kimball said his proposal to eliminate some officers was largely designed to promote public discussion about the level of services the city can afford in a tight budget time.
MacLaughlin also said that a regional or countywide police department should be considered but acknowledged that political and municipal considerations stand in the way.
"We do share services now with other local departments," he said. "We are involved in several different countywide task force concepts. We share equipment and technology whenever we can."
Councilman Andrew Johnson, D-5th Ward, called Kimball's staff-cut suggestions "irresponsible and unrealistic. But because he has proposed it, I expect him to present us with a plan on the feasibility of it."
Johnson, chairman of the Council's Finance Committee, is a former police chief.
Kimball expects to present his 1999 budget proposal to the Council by the end of September.