Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart added a resolution to Tuesday night's council meeting under new business to address the issue of paying for the Rockland County Narcotics Task Force and Intelligence Unit.
The Orangetown Police Department supplied one officer to each county unit, with the county reimbursing the town for the cost of sending the officers. The rate of reimbursement has changed over the years, but was agreed to as 100 percent for 2011.
The town claims it has received only half of that money for 2011 and is still unsure about funding for 2012. Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef’s proposed called for the county to stop funding the programs at all, but the final budget deal reached by the legislature restored much of that money.
Stewart's resolution calls for Orangetown to join four other towns in making the following proposition to the county and the district attorney's office.
We will remove our police officers from full participation in the joint task forces on narcotics and intelligence on April 15 if the county does not provide:
1. reimbursement for 2011 costs as promised (Orangetown is owed 50%)
2. a contract for 2012
3. reimbursement for the first quarter of 2012
The Orangetown Council passed the resolution by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Tom Morr opposed.
"Political brinksmanship happens all the time," Morr said. "But we're not talking about paving roads here. Selling drugs is a scourge in this county. It's getting worse in our neighborhoods. In the last several months, three teenagers (in Orangetown) have died from drugs. I'd rather hear from (Orangetown Police) Chief (Kevin Nulty) that we can still protect Orangetown residents if we pull from this (first)."
Stewart said Orangetown Police Officers would not completely pull from the county units, but would participate at Nulty's discretion. Nulty has been a strong proponent of the joint task forces and argued along with police chiefs all through the county when the issue of the funding being pulled was raised.
"He wants to participate in the joint task forces," Stewart said. "The ideal is to have task force participation, but it has to be weighed against other things."
Once concern Stewart raised is that the county will continue to push costs onto the towns due to its budget problems.
"The only card we really hold is the allocation of our own staff time," Stewart said. "The money we were promised may never show up. There are multiple problems of cost shifting going on. I think we need to be able to make this ultimatum and stick to it."
Councilman Denis Troy said he voted for the resolution reluctantly. He questioned Stewart regarding how much reimbursement the town supervisors are asking for.
"The negotiating position is 100 percent or we take our people out," Stewart said. "One scenario is they all our bluff. We need to pull our people out, according to Chief Nulty's discretion.]
"There is no such thing as a 100 percent pull out. It sends the message that we are not to be taken lightly."
Troy said he agreed that reaching an agreement is necessary, but not with insisting on 100 percent reimbursement.