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The Times
  • Frankfort village police department could face cuts

  • Possible cuts to the village police department has Frankfort Police Chief Ronald Petrie worried about being able to operate a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service.

    Also disconcerting to him is these discussions took place behind closed doors.

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  • Possible cuts to the village police department has Frankfort Police Chief Ronald Petrie worried about being able to operate a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service.
    Also disconcerting to him is these discussions took place behind closed doors.
    “It’s going to bring us back to the staffing levels they had in December 2010, which was when they were not able to cover 24 hours, seven days a week — coverage the taxpayer has paid for,” Petrie said.
    During the Sept. 6 Frankfort village board meeting, an executive session was convened to discuss Department of Public Works personnel. Shortly after beginning, Petrie said he was called in and was told for the third time in two months cuts might be necessary.
    Robert Freeman, director of the state Committee on Open Government, said the village had no basis for going into executive session.
    “The issue involved the allocation of public moneys, rather than the performance of any specific employee,” he said. “If that is so, it is clear that the discussion should have occurred in public.”
    Mayor Frank Moracco said Freeman was right “to a certain degree.”
    “On the other hand, I’m looking at a stressed employee that may feel that his job is in jeopardy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to put them under that stress.”
    Petrie sought the advice of Freeman after the Sept. 6 meeting, and drafted a letter to get the word out to the public.
    “You should be aware of what your taxes are paying for, and you should be getting the services you have paid for,” the chief wrote in the letter.
    The village has four full-time police officers, one who has been on extended medical leave, Petrie said. Moracco said two full-time officers potentially could be reduced to part-time status.
    “We’re reviewing every department to see if there is any way we can review the current budget,” he said. “We may have to look at the possibility of reducing the number of full-time employees to part-time status.”
    Petrie said cuts won’t produce any savings.
    “You’re not going to save money in the short term or long term,” Petrie said. “A part-timer would be in overtime.
    Moracco said there are budget constraints because of an unexpected $60,000 payout in an assessment grievance lawsuit, and another $60,000 is needed to demolish a structure that has become a public safety issue.
    Moracco also said the village will face increases in retirement and medical insurance as well.
    “You can only go into the well so many times,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to make decisions that are not very popular.”
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