Survey: Don’t disband village police
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen board reviewed the results of a survey from village residents regarding the village police force. The poll indicated strong satisfaction with the current police activity from the Watkins Glen Police Department and a majority of residents do not want to disband the service.
Mayor Mark Swinnerton said roughly 1,000 questionnaires were sent out to village residents in January, 2014, and 226 were returned. Swinnerton said the deadline was Monday, Feb. 3, so the village board will take some time to “digest” the report before analyzing it at their next meeting.
According to the survey results, when presented with the option to disband the village police force, 62 percent of the respondents oppose the concept. Only 23 percent support disbanding.
The survey came about after the results of a police department restructuring study conducted by the Center for Governmental Research from January to June, 2013, sparked discussion about potentially disbanding the village service and contracting with the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department. After acting on some of the study’s recommendations, the village decided to “engage a broader cross-section of the public on potential options,” according to the survey.
When regarding overall satisfaction with the village police, 38 percent of those who responded indicated they were highly satisfied with village services and 32 percent indicated they were just satisfied. Only 6 percent said they were dissatisfied, while 4 percent were highly dissatisfied.
Of the responders, 31 percent said they strongly support the status quo, while 22 percent said they also support it. There were 16 percent who oppose the status quo, while 14 percent strongly oppose it.
Other results indicated an interest and importance in having a school resource officer, frequent driving patrols and less than five minute response times for both serious and routine calls.
The survey also addressed property taxes in the village, with 2 percent being highly satisfied with the current level of property taxes and 26 percent who are just satisfied. The survey showed 22 percent of responders were dissatisfied with the current level of property taxes, while 15 percent were highly dissatisfied. The survey results also placed an importance on reducing property taxes. When it came to decreasing the cost of police services, 28 responded neutral, 25 percent said very important, 21 percent said important, 11 percent said not important and 10 percent said not very important. There were 5 percent who did not respond.
In other business:
• The board passed a local law overriding the state’s 2 percent tax cap for the upcoming budget year.