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Currier responds to Macaulay’s comments on airport security

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MASSENA - Massena’s village police chief is taking humbrage with a town councilman’s suggestion that the village’s efforts to get out of providing law enforcement services at the Massena Airport was ill advised.

The service, which now comes with an annual stipend equal to roughly $25,000, once brought the village more than $75,000.

“The amount of money the town is now paying us is one third of what it once was,” Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said. “They go from paying us $75,744 annually to $25,439 and expect the same service.”

Mr. Currier said the issues between the town and village boards connected to airport security date back to 2010.

“The concerns I brought forth to the town were not resolved and here we are three years later in the same position we were in,” he said. “In good faith, the village agrees to give them an additional three months to resolve our concerns and what we get are insults and name calling.”

Town Councilman John F. Macaulay questioned the village’s interest in walking away from the agreement at Wednesday’s town board meeting .

“Why can’t we do this forever?” he asked. “How is that better for them if they from $25,000 to $0?”

Mr. Macaulay said withoutthe village providing the service to the airport the polic department will be losing revenue.

“It’s a routine assignment now. I guess Jim (Massena Mayor James F. Hidy) doesn’t understand what the word routine means,” Mr. Macaulay said. “If you take that job away from those guys, they will still have to be paid. Do they understand this is money that will be lost from their budget?”

As a resident of the village, Mr. Macaulay said he doesn’t want to see his taxes go up, because of village police no longer responding to the airport. He also noted he would feel more comfortable with a consistent law enforcement presence there.

“In my mind we would be better off knowing the village police will be there every day,” he said. “The issue is we’re not going to pay $50,000 for them.”

While the $25,439 the department would receive for a year of service at the airport could be budgeted as revenue, Mr. Currier said Thursday it’s not that simple.

“We budget that revenue, but we also have to budget some expenses particularly the overtime, but what the impact will be we don’t know at this time,” he said referring to the lost revenue.

Mr. Currier also said he doesn’t understand the town board’s sudden concern with the village’s lost revenue.

“One of the town board members was concerned we would be losing revenue, but we’ve already lost revenue to the tune of $50,000,” he said. “They want us to continue to provide the same service and do it for 33 cents on the dollar. I am not sure that’s an effective way for me to advise the village on how we should operate this department.”

The reduction in payment though isn’t the department’s only concern, he said, noting the village hasn’t even received a reduced payment for the services it provided last year.

“We have not been paid anything in more than a year. A failure to file paperwork is being blamed. We lived up to our end of the bargain by agreeing to a contract, providing the services and billing the town. Yet no money come forth. We did out part and we would like them to do theirs.”

Mr. Currier also said the airport detail was discussed during the village’s most recent negotiations with its police officers.

“In the last collective bargaining negotiations with the union representing the police officers, we worked hard to modify the schedule to increase staffing during higher volume hours and reduce it during hours with less volume,” he said, The airport detail was part of that discussion, which led us to getting an agreement to use part-time employees.”

Throughout the entire process, Mr. Currier said he has been open to discussing the matter with anyone, but only one town board member has ever approached him to discuss the matter.

“Only one councilman, Tom Miller, reached out to discuss this issue and hear my concerns,” he said. “The comments being made are disappointing and would likely be avoided with some direct communication.”

Late last month it appeared that the village might stop providing a law enforcement presence at the airport, but both boards agreed to a three month contract that will see the village continue to provide that service through the end of the year, while Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray explores other options.

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