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Artpark board faces budget gap without police fee from Artpark

LEWISTON – As the deadline for adopting a final 2015 budget approaches, Town Board members debated Monday night how to require Artpark to pay $40,000 for police protection during the summer concert season.

The short answer was, They can’t.

Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey said that without the funds from Artpark for police protection, Lewiston will face a budget shortfall that may require the board to impose a town tax.

This past year, Artpark agreed to pay $40,000 for town police protection outside the park. In 2014, however, the town agreed to continue to pay Artpark $100,000 as part of the Modern Disposal tipping fees.

But for 2015, the board voted to withhold the $100,000 in tipping fees. Brochey had also budgeted for additional funds to come from Artpark for police protection.

Artpark Director George D. Osborne met with Brochey and Brochey told the board that Artpark will not pay the $40,000 if the tipping fee is discontinued.

Councilman Ronald R. Winkley told Brochey that Artpark is a not-for-profit organization and cannot be required to pay for police protection outside the park.

The board discussed closing the upper exit from Artpark to the Robert Moses Parkway, where Lewiston police have normally been assigned. “They’re going to have to stand in line for three hours to get out, but that’s not what we want,” Winkley said.

“Threats are threats. I think the only entity to suffer is their customers,” Councilman Alfonso M. Bax said.

The board also discussed a fee of 40 cents per ticket, which would be used to pay for police, but, again, that would be up to Artpark to add any fees to their summer concert tickets.

“I’ve asked them, but that’s not a business plan they want,” said Winkley, who is Town Board liaison with Artpark.

Finance Officer Paul A. Kloosterman suggested a joint board meeting between both the Town Board and Artpark’s board of directors.

Bax agreed: “I think we owe it to ourselves to have a public joint meeting. I think residents should be involved.” He added, “I grew up in Artpark, and I don’t want to do anything that hurts their business model, but the fiscal reality is the fiscal reality and we can’t just hide from the signs on the wall.”

No date was set for a joint meeting.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com