ILION – Tonight’s budget hearing in the village of Ilion is sure to be a lively one as the board has proposed a number of much-opposed cuts throughout the village.
Mayor Terry Leonard and the board put forth their proposed $6.39 million budget two weeks ago. The budget includes a 1.9 percent tax increase for village residents, and makes cuts to the police department, fire department and Department of Public Works.
While many details of the budget have been kept under wraps until tonight’s meeting, one highly-contested cut is to the police department.
According to a press release issued by Ilion Police Benevolent Association President, Matthew Darrow, the village plans to cut one officer position from the department.
According to Police Chief Tim Parisi, the department currently has 19 employees, including himself and two dispatchers. About two years ago, the department lost an officer through retirement, and that position was never filled, he said. A further cut would leave the department down two officers.
“Obviously this is upsetting to us,” said Darrow. “It’s going to put a further strain on the officers and it’s a danger to public safety.”
Darrow explained that there must be at least three police officers on at all times. Officers work in 12-hour shifts with every officer putting in 84 hours in a two-week period.
“Cutting out an officer and the 84 hours he would be working just means those 84 hours will have to be picked up elsewhere,” Darrow said. “It will mean the rest of the officers working over-time. Yet the village thinks this will save them money.”
Mayor Leonard said he is reserving all comments for tonight’s meeting.
“I don’t want to pick apart the budget line by line here,” Leonard said. “I will present it whole to the public at the hearing.”
The hearing will take place at 6 p.m. tonight, April 8, in the Ilion Municipal Building auditorium.
“I hope the public realizes what’s happening and comes out to the meeting,” Darrow said.