LAKEWOOD - Negotiations on how much the town of Busti and the village of Lakewood should pay for the Lakewood-Busti Police Department have started.
Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, Richard Sanders, Busti councilman, David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, and Joseph Troche, Lakewood trustee, met recently to discuss for the first time how much each municipality should pay for police department services. An agreement between the two municipalities ends at the end of the year.
Right now, Lakewood pays 73 percent of the budget while Busti pays 27 percent. The Lakewood-Busti Police Department budget, with all factors included like pension and insurance costs, is around $1.3 million a year.
Wordelmann said village officials will be asking town officials to pay a larger percentage of the bill. The mayor said information is being collected to determine how often the police department answers calls in the town and the village. Once the information is collected, Lakewood officials will determine how much of an increase the town may pay.
''We're trying to determine what percentage of service we provide them with,'' Wordelmann said. ''We're trying to come up with a formula so (Busti) is paying their fair share.''
Wordelmann said, so far, town officials seem responsive to the idea of Busti residents paying more for police services.
''We've agreed on an outline on what we are going to do. That is always a good starting point with negotiations,'' he said. ''Talks were amenable. Both sides realize we have to do something different. We're happy with the town's response so far in the negotiations.''
Robbins said he too is hopeful the two sides will be able to come to an agreement. The supervisor said town officials are waiting for information to be collected to determine how much more Busti residents may potentially pay.
''Right now, we don't have any numbers. Until we have numbers, there is not much to say,'' he said. ''There may be an increase (for how much Busti pays."
"I don't think (Busti officials) have a problem with that. I think (village officials) are trying to be fair," Robbins said. "There could be many ways this may come together.''
Robbins agreed that both sides are being positive during the negotiations.
''There definitely is a positive feeling with the negotiations - much better than I had anticipated,'' he said.
The two sides will meet again Thursday to continue negotiations. Wordelmann said both sides hope to have an agreement done in the next month or two.