At times I have been at odds with County Executive Joel Giambra's vision for Erie County, but my hat is off to him for finally informing the towns and villages that have received county-subsidized police protection that they will have to start paying their fair share of the costs.
The elected officials of municipalities such as Amherst have decided to provide police protection for their residents by creating their own departments. The residents of these communities pay for the service through their property taxes. The officials of municipalities such as Grand Island and Clarence have decided not to provide that protection. Yet these same officials want the same service as Amherst and have relied on the entire population of Erie County to pay for it.
The argument put forth by the towns and villages affected, and now Sheriff Patrick Gallivan, that these communities already pay county taxes and deserve police protection doesn't hold water. Residents in all of the communities in Erie County pay county taxes and for this they receive state-mandated Sheriff's Department services such as the Holding Center and security in the county courts. The Sheriff's Department is under no legal obligation to provide basic police protection to any community.
In the best tradition of Erie County, some of these officials have indicated that if they can't get subsidized police protection from the county they will ask the State Police to provide it. In that way, the people of Rochester and Albany will be helping to pay along with the rest of us.
Daniel L. Helmbrecht