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March 9, 2010 - 10:29am

Batavia Police embark on effort to enforce seat belt and mobile phone laws

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Police.

Buckle Up, Batavia.

That's the message from the Batavia Police Department, which will be using grant money from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to fund extra enforcement details in the city.

The Police will be looking for front seat passengers not wearing seat belts and issuing tickets. They'll also keep a sharp eye out for drivers talking on mobile phones.

The enforcement details will be in place for several months starting today.

In a statement, officials said:

The goal of the enforcement effort is to raise the seat belt use rate by all front seat occupants. With the use of seat belts, there is a significant reduction in the number and degree of personal injuries in the event of an accident.

Doug Yeomans
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There's no good reason for a seat belt law to exist. Wearing a seat belt does not protect anyone other than the person wearing it. I can see the law applying to people under 21 (lets pick an age) but once you're an adult at 21, it should be your choice. I can't stand nanny-state laws that are obviously violations of my right to be free and to live on the edge if I so please. The government has no business protecting ME from MYSELF. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Laws like this exist for one or two reasons only. It gives cops another reason to pull people over to snoop and it generates revenue. A seat belt ticket will cost you $185. That's a $100 fine imposed by the judge and an $85 state surcharge. That's the first ticket..successive tickets will cost you even more. One time while I was getting onto the Thruway in Henrietta, a Trooper was hiding behind the ticket booth looking into every vehicle as it went by to see if the driver and front seat passengers had their seat belts on. Talk about cheap, cheesy, invasive and a flagrant violation of my right to privacy. Imagine what a cop would do if you walked up to their cruiser and said "as a tax payer, I'm just checking to make sure you're doing your job." You'd probably end up in a world of hurt but it's okay for them to do it to you and everyone else..unreal. I am so tired of this crap.
Doug Yeomans
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If you think that wearing a seat belt protects anyone other than the person wearing it, I'll give you an example of how silly this is. The latest news about Toyota drivers being unable to stop their car when the accelerator sticks is a perfect example of what happens to drivers in panic mode. THEY FREEZE and lose all ability to think rationally. All they have to do is pop their car into neutral and coast/brake to the side of the road. THEN shut off the car. Who cares if the engine is racing? At least you're not being propelled down the road to your death. Most drivers are barely in control of their vehicle when driving on a straight road let alone when they're in a panic situation. Some people would love to claim that the seat belt keeps you behind the wheel so that you can make evasive maneuvers. I say BS and here's why. I've been in accidents, plenty of them, and they happen far too fast to avoid the inevitable. I can legally ride a motorcycle with no seat belt. Yeah, a helmet is required by law but still there's no seat belt or metal box around me for protection. Helmet laws are ridiculous, too. Would I still wear a helmet and seat belt regardless of the law? Yes! It should be a choice, MY CHOICE!
Lori Ann Santini
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Interesting thought to ponder Mr. Yeomans. The use of seatbelts saves you and me money. Simple math. Everytime a person is in a MVC (motor vehicle crash) and they seek medical treatment, the bills are paid for through no fault insurance. If you own a vehicle and it is insured, you too "donate" to this bank. Every year the cost of medical care rises. This then in turn means that more and more has to be put into this account to cover the rising expenses. I can assure you that seatbelts not only save lives but save money too. I respond to many calls where the patient is indeed properly secured in their vehicle. They have no injuries and therefore don't need to seek further help at the local Emergency Room. Unfortunately it is the people that aren't using their seatbelts that are badly mangled when the impact ejects them from their vehicle. The hospital and rehabilitation costs are astronomical. No fault covers hundreds of thousands of dollars of that cost. Read your policy to understand how much an accident you are involved in could cost the no fault bank. We all have the right to make choices when it comes to our lives. I choose as I always have to use my seatbelt. I insist that anyone in my vehicle also does. It never promises that I or my passengers will be 100 percent safe however we have a better chance.
Doug Yeomans
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It should still be a choice. It's not the insurance company that mandates wearing a restraint device. It's "big brother" that makes the law and we pay them to infringe upon us. I doubt that the use of seat belts has saved lives to the extent that improvements in vehicle designs have. Vehicles are manufactured with better materials, are designed to fail in a specific manner when in a crash or rollover, have anti-lock brakes, have air bags and better handling characteristics than those of even just 10 years ago. Tire design is also far superior which enhances how the vehicle tracks and handles. Those are the things that save lives along with teaching people road manners and driving skills. I think putting more emphasis on driving skills instruction makes more sense than spending money on enforcing a seat belt law. The police need to be more involved with catching criminals, not worrying about who is wearing their seat belt or not.
Bob Harker
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Doug I agree with you on most "Nanny State" laws. We disagree on the seat belt deal for the same reasons stated by Lori Ann, but that's no big deal. My biggest beef with these "extra enforcement details" is the spending aspect. Why are we using added taxpayer dollars to enforce laws that are already on the books? Area law enforcement agencies all have a budget. Officers , though greatly under compensated, are paid to enforce the laws that are on the books. Lower spending and create jobs. That will allow for law enforcement budgets to increase.
Thomas Mooney
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Why haven't we cut these grants in an attempt to balance our state budget . This is not free money , it's our money .
terry paine
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The only reason for the ridiculous cell phone laws is to generate money for bureaucracies, thereby removing it from the economy. If the powers that be were truly interested in safety they would outlaw talking on a cell phone, not outlaw holding it. If anyone becomes a dangerous driver because their hand is holding a cell then they are just a dangerous driver. The fact that law enforcement officers just blindly follow any dictate that's passed down just for a paycheck is immoral in itself. It is no different than a automotive repair shop forcing you to pay $185 for a safety item that is of no use. The solution is to remove the state from the whole process of licensing people, The people most interested and accountable for the ability of a driver is the Insurance company. A licensing system and safety awareness and enforcement program provided by the insurance companies, who have the most to lose, would produce far better drivers. The free market is always a better solution to regulating human behavior.
Peter O'Brien
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I still surf the web, text, instant message, use my gps and talk on my phone while I drive. Catch me if you can.
william tapp
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the batavia police need a grant to do this? thought it was there job any way. what does a grant have to do with this? put on more police?
Mark Potwora
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Good point William..Why do they need a grant to do their job..
John Roach
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Mark, Maybe to pay for overtime? This sounds like an officer will not be on "normal" city patrol, so it would be an extra cost. A grant would pay for it. Of course, that grant money came out of our pocket somewhere down the line. Peter, Feel free to sound stupid.
Jeff Allen
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Doug, how is it that a State Trooper on a State highway looking into your vehicle that you chose to drive on the State public highway a cheap, cheesy, invasive, flagrant violation of your right to privacy? Sounds like a good use of limited resources to me. And if law enforcement agencies don't use revenues from people who willingly choose to ignore the laws, then how would you like them to help offset expenses, more taxes? I personally like the idea of offenders paying some of the law enforcement expenses through fines as opposed to me paying for them to catch offenders through higher taxes.
Justin Burger
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I always thought that having a license to drive was a privilege, not a right. That being said, as a firefighter, we'd much rather cut you out of a seat belt, alive with a couple broken ribs...as opposed to scraping your dead body off the pavement.
Bryant Tyson
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I agree seat belt laws are a bad deal. At the same time if your not useing a seat belt your not that smart to begin with. I love to smash up cars from my frist accident as a kid it was a big thrill for me. I started running demolition derbies after that. If seat belts haven't saved my life more than once. Then they have certainly kept me form spending the rest of my life drooling on my self in a wheelchair.
terry paine
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Justin "I always thought that having a license to drive was a privilege, not a right". My right to travel comes as soon as I buy a gallon of gas and they charge me a tax to maintain the the route I plan to travel on. Jeff "I personally like the idea of offenders paying some of the law enforcement expenses through fines as opposed to me paying for them to catch offenders through higher taxes". So you think all the laws make sense and people that pose no danger to anyone should have money forcibly extracted from them. I used to be a pro law enforement person until 3 encounters with law enforcement in which it became apparent they did not deserve my unquestioning respect. In two cases I called them for help and they were totally useless. The third time I was detained for not having a front license plate on my family minivan while driving out for ice cream on a Sunday eve - and treated as though I had stolen the vehicle. I recently had something stolen from my vehicle with a value of $400, and didn't call the police - what's the point? Cops are for occasionally arresting someone after they've already committed a crime, or for collecting revenues from the average Joe breaking the idiotic laws that are passed for that purpose. They offer no deterrent or protection from crime.
Jeff Allen
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Terry, first, to say that I think all laws make sense based on my post is a huge leap. Second, money is not forcibly extracted from offenders. Traffic laws and fines are made known to all drivers and breaking them is a personal choice that comes with a clearly defined consequence. I have said it before in this forum, I choose not to speed, not to talk on my cellphone while driving and wear my seatbelt at all times and consequently, law enforcement gets no fine revenue money from me. That makes perfect sense to me.
terry paine
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Jeff - to clarify, you are allowed to talk on your cell phone, as long as you are not holding it at the same time. You can hold and eat a Big Mac while talking on your cellphone, as long as you are not holding the cell phone. Now, if a law is passed that you can't listen to your radio while driving will you obey? What about if it becomes illegal to talk to your passenger? To eat a snack? Is there a law too useless, or will you gladly obey them all to avoid fine or punishment? A dumb law is just that, and NYS has a lot of them that are easy pickings for the law enforcement revenuers. Other states don't need these very same laws. Of course other states aren't trying to support a bloated government while their private sector taxpayers head for freer, less expensive states.
Jeff Allen
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Terry, it doesn't accomplish anything to surmise one's anticipated compliance to laws that don't even exist yet. You say other states don't have these stupid laws, currently, 6 states have bans on handheld cellphone use, 19 states have bans on texting while driving and 21 states have bans on all cellphone use by "novice" drivers.
cj sruger
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Terry, Same here, a few traffic tickets, and when I needed them, when my car was broke into this summer, The deputy acted like I was wasting his time and only got out of his car for 2 min to look thru the window of my car , then told me to come to his car while he sat in it to take the rest of my info.It took 3 follow up calls to get him to call me back to see if there was any development. The only guys who seem the most useful are the guys taking down the drug houses.
Gary Diegelman
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I am with you Lori Ann. Ask any police officer who has been on a serious accient. Ask any crash expert. It is a proven fact seat belts lower injury rates. How many accidents have you been to where someone not wearing a seatbelt has been thrown into a passenger injurying or killing that passenger. I have been to fatal accidents and picked bodies out of the road because someone wasn't wearing a belt. Not a pretty sight. As far as cell phones they are just another distraction that has no place in the drivers hands weather talking or texting. Also lets not just ask why the Batavia Police should get this grant money. Every pro active police agency in the state including Sheriff's offices are intitled to this money. I say send a clear message to make the roads and streets of our county safe. BREAK THE LAW PAY THE PIPER. MY kids are out on these roads and I want them to return home at night!
John Roach
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Terry, Like it or not, driving is a "privilege". You must volunteer to take a drivers license from the State. And while you have to pass a written and driving skill test, you must volunteer to do either one. The state does not force you to. And when you ask for a license, you agree to obey the laws related to it. Break the rules, don't cry about the fine.
DOUGLAS MCCLURG
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The "SYSTEM"---Not enough people In The court room,Send out patrols to bring them In...Not enough people In the County jail..People go to jail for lesser crimes...Jails over populated,Maybe they cut you a break this time..FACT IS..There are employees that will work and get paid for being at work,judges,correction officers,patrolmen,secretaries.System figures,let's just keep these people busy and have the public pay their salaries.I always buckle up!!The belt comes free with the vehicle!!
Richard Gahagan
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Get off it, seat belts, cell phones, head lights on when it rains are just excuses to pull people over to justify 3 law enforcement agencies patrolling a small town overly taxed population. They'll do all they can to suck as much cash as they can out of you to justify keeping their government jobs that should be on the chopping block.
John Roach
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Richard, Rather silly comment. The City of Batavia and Genesee County did not pass those laws, the State legislature did (thought you would have known that). Of course, if you talk to a cop, there is a good chance cop was not in favor of another law they have to enforce. And, they do have to enforce them, or somebody crybaby will say the cops are not doing their job. Or, are you saying the police should be allowed to pick which laws will be enforced? If so, what criteria should they use?
Richard Gahagan
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Silly, no what's silly is people like you not reconizing that its all about collecting money. You really think the government cares if you wear your seat belt or not, or if your to fat from drinking soft drinks with too much sugar. They don't, they only care about creating additional means to collect cash to support the unwarranted number of government employees.
John Roach
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Richard, Nice try. The stupid proposed soft drink tax is a nice diversion from this subject. Since you think we have too many law enforcement officers, what given Batavia is a city of approx. 15,000 people, do you think is correct number of police officers that we should have? How many should be on patrol duty on a shift? Outside of the City, how many County Sheriff's do you think is the right number?
Richard Gahagan
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No city police at all. Let the sheriffs and the troppers drive around looking for them dastardly no seat belt wearin phone talkin and textin criminals. Ok maybe one Barney for the city he could also make sure kids have licenses for their bikes.
John Roach
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Richard, Then how many Sheriff's should patrol the city at any one time? How many deputies should be on duty in the rest of the County? Try hard to answer the question.
Chris Charvella
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Richard, you realize that the patrols still have to exist right? Should we ask the county and state taxpayers to foot the bill for a 'Metro Unit'? I think not. I really think that people are generally pleased with our police department, they do good work and they uphold the law.
Richard Gahagan
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Patrols for seat belts don't need to exist.
Chris Charvella
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Maybe, maybe not, but this isn't the first time you've railed on about the City of Batavia not needing its cops.
Bea McManis
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Posted by Chris Charvella on March 10, 2010 - 10:55am Maybe, maybe not, but this isn't the first time you've railed on about the City of Batavia not needing its cops. If it were up to Richard, the city of Batavia would cease to exist. It is an old and boring diatribe.
C. M. Barons
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I hesitate to post this- I've only anecdotal evidence to support the claim. This will sound like one of those generational arguments over who had it tougher. Still... During the 60s and 70s- when I was a teen, county sheriffs and state troopers devoted substantially more time to traffic infractions. It was a risk to hit the road without plates and inspection up-to-date, a driver who signalled all turns, came to a complete stop, had tire tread that would pass the penny test, had no defective lights and honored speed limits. As alluded to in the CSN&Y song, "Almost Cut My Hair," the second wave of law enforcement "profiling": long-hair. There was a Monroe County Sheriff assigned to Churchville. Gearheads from Bergen used to tease him with their loud mufflers; he'd chase them as far as the county line in his interceptor. Out-running that sheriff's car afforded major bragging rights. Nowadays there is one sheriff assigned to three towns- IF and WHEN he/she isn't filling out paperwork in Batavia.
Howard B. Owens
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C.M., it's different times. I remember a few months ago sitting in Delavan's listing to a couple of old timers recall the days when they raced their Chevys down Route 33 ... two cars, side-by-side on a two-way, two-lane road.
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Understood, Howard, but the change necessitates asking, "What do we expect from our law enforcement agencies?" Richard Gahagan seems to indicate the Law of the Old West would suffice in "Mayberry." Others don't seem to share his self-service philosophy. As the headlines indicate, down-home homilies won't cut it: Sex Offenders, Meth Labs, Bank Robberies, Illegal Aliens, Murder and Larceny. Sounds like more than a squabble between Barney and Otis. The assumption in Genesee County is that all the law officers congregate in Batavia awaiting the "Big Case" that will earn a political job. That truism is premised on the county offering Bergen, LeRoy and Stafford an extra night patrol at cost- the three towns shared one patrol. ...Or maybe it's based on a call to the State Police; the desk officer answered, "Bergen is in Monroe County- you need to call the Brockport station."
John Roach
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CM, Richard also overlooks that Texas is big on law enforcement of all types. Go to Austin and you have the city cops, capital cops and the Rangers all running around. He just hates Batavia and still refused to answer my questions on numbers.
Richard Gahagan
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Buford T. Justice could handle all of Genesee County on his own.
Posted by Chris Charvella on March 10, 2010 - 10:42am Richard, you realize that the patrols still have to exist right? Should we ask the county and state taxpayers to foot the bill for a 'Metro Unit'? I think not. I disagree with that totally, Chris! Why do we have to pay for the State and County to be in the City of Batavia then if we are going to use that logic! We contribute, a lot actually, for County Services. Including the Sheriff. Isn't that a complete duplication of services just a little wasteful? Why is it ok for us to pay more? Understand, I'm not saying I have displeasure with our force, just your logic train on that.
Chris Charvella
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County Sheriffs and State Troopers have different enforcement responsibilities than the city cops Phil, but you already know that; after all, you're not stupid, you're just stubborn. Please, keep beating your drum about getting rid of the City Police and foisting the cost of city patrol off on county taxpayers. They'll laugh you all the way home.
John Roach
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Richard, You're still are avoiding the question: How many Sheriff's do you think Genesee County would need if it also took over the city? It appears you have no real clue. Phil, Since the people of the City are not ready to do away with their Police Department, do you think the Department is now the right size?
Richard Gahagan
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OK John, Barney, Buford T. Justice, and Roscoe P. Coltrane should be able to handle it and I'll even throw in one of the deputies from Reno 911 to do the seat belt stops to get the money for the Sheriff's ball at the end of the year.
Dave Meyer
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Phil, You can add me to the list of people who think having a local police force is unnecessary duplication of services. Chris, it's called c-o-n-s-o-l-i-d-a-t-i-o-n and it's a good idea. Of course, some of the current BPD staff would be assimilated into the sheriff's dept, but we could get by with less management and seems like everyone would benefit from less staff to have to pay pensions and benefits for. Seems like there would be benefits to everyone by having a coordinated approach to law enforcement throughout the entire county.
They have different levels? Why is that Chris? It's because they all exist! If there wasn't City Police then the responsibilities would have to be re-shuffled We are county tax payers Chris!!! Yes I will keep beating my drum because it makes sense. They'll laugh me all the way home? That's a cute line. I don't mind being laughed at all. John, I honestly don't know. Although I think that is something that the city will have to look at to control the cost, since as you say, the people are not ready yet! I think it's a solid question though, John
Thanks David! You are added to the list!
Chris Charvella
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Phil, it only makes sense for the city, the rest of the county doesn't give a damn about the city budget. They only know that the city is in debt and looking for ways to get out. The bills still have to be paid and the rest of the county isn't going to fess up x-dollars per thousand to subsidize city law enforcement. Your idea is exactly half-baked because you only take into account what you want, without consideration for the folks who have to take on your bills. Find a way to do it without raising taxes on people who don't live in the city and maybe you'll get a fair hearing. David, it's not c-o-n-s-o-l-i-d-a-t-i-o-n, it's shared services. Consolidation as it pertains to our bustling metropolis is about the City and Town of Batavia consolidating into a single municipality.
Excuse me, sir? half baked? Less rude more points please. Do you actually know what the cost would be to other residents? You would not be taking the entire city police force to the county. The City would still have to pay it's fair share of those additional officers, maybe all! At the end of the day it would be FAR less that what the city is paying now! By the way that IS called consolidation! What is that cost Chris? You don't know! Because no one will do the work to get us there. It's just easier to sit upon high and tell us all what is good for us vs them instead of doing "real" work! Batavia is the center of this county. Almost 50% of the county residents live within 5 miles of our borders and nearly 100% use our streets and services throughout their week. Asking the questions on how to bring this city out of debt bring future relief is pretty smart for the region I would say. You don't think so? Then tell me how? Where are your savings? I'm just curious because I hear you speak about fiscal responsibilty, but I never hear how you will reduce out spending!
Bea McManis
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So, if there is a big accident on Rte. 20 or in the furthest southern part of our county that requires the services of several Sheriff cars and personnel, what happens to the rest of the county and the city? Would there be sheriff personnel assigned strictly to the city? In essense be the city police department? Consolidation sounds like what would happen between the City and Town of Batavia. Shared services, paid by everyone in the county, is what we would have with no city police department. Fiscal responsibility comes in many forms. Cutting out protection for those who live in the city to save money may sound right, but one has to look at all sides of the issue. Phil, do you fall in with Gahagan in the belief that crime is so low in the city that we only need a few bumpkin cops to keep the peace?
John Roach
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Chris, A consolidation of Police Departments could be done, but very difficult when you look at merging. There are problems of seniority, rank structure, etc. The easier way is to eliminate the city police and have the County pick up the coverage. But, the County just might demand the city still pay more for the extra sheriffs. And since we only have 3 out of 9 legislatures, the County would have a strong hand. But, like Phil said before, he ran on this issue. He also lost. There is no majority support at this time to eliminate our City Police. People, for the most part, are happy with the Department. In about another 10 years, maybe people will think different, but not now. Richard, Still ducking the answer. Try a bit of backbone
Chris Charvella
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Phil, you don't have any numbers either, the reason for that is simple: There is NO public support for this and therefore no one is going to spend a dime on studying how it would work. Like John said, you ran on the issue and lost. Even the folks who like the general idea of City/Town consolidation balk at the idea of dissolving the City Police Department. When you were campaigning on this issue you made it sound like, if you were elected, you were just going to march into the County Courthouse and let the Legislature know that they were going to be taking over the city cops. Yes, I'll say it again: half-baked, because the only part of the equation that seems to matter to you is what the City spends right now, you don't have any answers for what the county will have to spend later. The truth isn't rude just because it hurts your feelings. Funny thing is, I actually like the idea of consolidation, I just haven't seen a way to properly apply it yet. We're in a unique situation with the town because they have a 0% property tax rate. No matter what happens, you're going to have one hell of a time convincing a person who pays 0% that his town is going to merge with a municipality that's millions of dollars in debt but his taxes aren't going to go up. The only way I can see that working is if you set up different tax zones. Big problem with that though, we still have to pay the bills. The best case scenario here is a zero sum game where city residents still pay relatively high property taxes and town residents don't. If that's the case then why bother? If we were talking about two municipalities that had relatively similar tax rates and consolidation could lower costs dramatically then the process could be relatively simple. That's not the case here though. City resident's have a lot to gain and town residents have a lot to lose; that's not the recipe for compromise and I just don't understand why some of you act so shocked and appalled when town residents tell you exactly where you can stick your consolidation agenda.
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Posted by John Roach on March 10, 2010 - 6:51pm Richard, Still ducking the answer. Try a bit of backbone Maybe we'll get that answer the same day we see all those pictures of empty fire halls in Batavia that the city can sell.

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