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Giambra's plan to bill for sheriff's patrols is opposed

Holland Supervisor Gordon B. Hessel Jr. on Wednesday called Erie County Executive Joel A. Giambra's plan to charge small towns for services from the Sheriff's Department "irrational" and urged residents to complain to their legislators.

Hessel joined town officials from Colden, Elma, Newstead and Wales earlier in the day in a news conference called by Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard to oppose Giambra's plan. Under the plan, the 15 towns would be billed about $4.5 million for road patrol services if the 2006 budget proposal goes unchanged, Hessel said.

"We cannot allow them to throw this burden on our small towns," Hessel said during a meeting of the Town Board on Wednesday evening. "If, in fact, this does go through and a contract comes before my desk, I will not sign it. If a bill comes, I will not pay it."

Sheriff's Lt. Bradley Roth told the board Wednesday night that on any given evening, 13 patrol cars are on duty in the county's towns not served by other police departments and that after midnight, no more than four State Police cruisers are on patrol throughout the county.

Hessel said that Roth's statistics show that even towns with their own police forces use Sheriff's Department services but that under the Giambra plan, they won't be billed.

"We have the only bomb squad in the whole western part of the state," Roth said. "We have helicopters that even the larger towns can't afford."

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