On The Ballot: Should New Berlin Abolish The Town’s Police Department?

By: Zachary Meseck

On the ballot: Should New Berlin abolish the town’s police department? The Town of New Berlin will hold a public hearing on potentially removing its police department at 5:50 p.m. on October 13 at the New Berlin Town Hall. (Photo by Zachary Meseck)

NEW BERLIN – The Town of New Berlin board members are asking area residents to make their voices heard at an upcoming board meeting to determine if the local police department will be cut for tax revenue reasons.

The public hearing will be held at 5:50 p.m. on October 13 at the New Berlin Town Hall. The meeting will take place before the board meeting later that night.

According to Town of New Berlin Supervisor Robert Starr, New Berlin has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus and a number of reduced tax streams. Starr said the town would be able to continue another year on savings, but is asking for feedback on potentially decommissioning the town’s police department.

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Starr said reduced income from New York State, a local business that isn’t able to continue with its payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) program, and reduced sales tax are all factors that have led to the reduced tax income. He said the police department costs town taxpayers approximately $180,000 a year.

“If we have to cut something, the police department is the most expendable because of its reduced personal and workload,” said Starr. “We have a goal of 100 hours of coverage, but we’re down to about 60 or 70 hours right now because it’s so hard to keep staff,”

Starr said the area would still be covered by the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police. He said that a recent report showed that the majority of calls being handled in the Town of New Berlin were being handled by other law enforcement agencies.

Starr said coming from a law enforcement background himself, having to make decisions like this are particularly frustrating. He said added issues of being short staffed don’t help the situation.

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