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Monday, January 28, 2008

New Hartfordgate...

After reviewing the 2008 Adopted Budget, Concerned Citizens was curious as to just how the dollar amount for police patrols at St. Luke's Hospital and Sangertown Square were determined. Was it by a contract for a fixed dollar amount...actual hours worked times the actual cost per hour per officer...what determined the budgeted amount under Wholetown Revenues?

So on November 28, 2007, we FOILed the information. Shortly thereafter we received an email back from the Town Clerk saying that the hourly rate was determined by town law. We looked up the Town of New Hartford Codes; in particular, the part referencing Outside Employment of Officers.

Indeed, the hourly rate for both locations is in the town law:
§ 25-4. Rates and charges.

A. The Town of New Hartford shall charge for services rendered by the Town of New Hartford Police Department upon the Sangertown Square Mall property the owner thereof at a rate to be fixed by the Comptroller of the Town of New Hartford, which rate shall be $22 per hour for police services for the first year from the effective date of this article, such rate being all inclusive with no additional costs. Thereafter, the rate is to be renegotiated and adopted by resolution.

B. The Town of New Hartford shall charge for services rendered by the Town of New Hartford Police Department upon the St. Luke's - Memorial Hospital Center campus property the owner thereof at a rate to be fixed by the Comptroller of the Town of New Hartford, which rate shall be $22 per hour for police services for the first year from the effective date of this article, such rate being all inclusive with no additional costs. Thereafter, the rate is to be renegotiated and adopted by resolution. [Added 9-21-1994 by L.L. No. 7-1994]

Wow, $22 per hour seems awfully low; that rate was set by town law in 1993 and according to the law the rate is to be renegotiated and adopted by resolution. Have the rates ever been renegotiated? For certain, the police contracts have been renegotiated.

After reading the article in the December 7, 2007 Observer Dispatch, we were under the impression that when the Police Chief was quoted as saying that the town gets reimbursed by the mall it meant that there was no cost to the taxpayers for these patrols (more importantly, shouldn't it mean that)? We also wondered if the hours spent patrolling Sangertown and St. Luke's are part of the normal scheduled hours or do the officers receive overtime pay when they are assigned to these areas? If they are paid overtime, our guess is that $22 is way short of covering the expense and guess who is making up the difference?

According to the December 28, town board meeting listing the 2008 Salary Schedule, there are only two officers that makes less than $22 an hour...not to mention the added cost of their benefits or the fact that the officers may be getting paid overtime.

We asked the town clerk if the town codes are up-to-date or if there have been any changes to the hourly rate that perhaps was not noted in the Code book. Answer from the Town Clerk: the code book is up-to-date. We are going back to the town clerk's office to check again just to make sure that the town clerk understood what we were asking.

We also FOILed the invoices that are sent to Sangertown Mall and St. Luke's each month...maybe they will give us an idea of what is going on.

to be continued...it gets better...stay tuned!

Part 2 of New Hartfordgate Now Available here!

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