As police commissioners Dave Franklin, James Duncan and Angela Lawlor-Mullins voted to approve abstract 886 in the amount of $4,611,700.19 they acknowledged it was the highest monthly expense any of them could remember.
An abstract is a summary of all the monthly expenses for a village, district or municipality and, for the police district, must be approved by the commissioners before any payments can be made.
The largest single item for this month is the $4,345,433 payment to the New York State Police and Fire Retirement System—a 40 percent increase from last year. Duncan pointed to larger-than-normal expenses due to a change in the retirement system and “different investments that did not pan out the way we thought they would.”
Richard Finkel attorney for the district added, “These are the same things that municipalities are facing throughout the state; rising pension costs and making up past years’ investment losses. It may level out; it may not. It’s hard to predict what the future holds.” All other expenditures were consistent with normal monthly expenses.
The portion of the pension contribution not already budgeted will come from the police district general fund. Each year the police department provides for six percent of its budget to be deposited in a reserve fund. That fund will now be tapped to make the payment to the retirement system. How much will be left? “We wouldn’t know until the financials are complete,” Duncan said. “We are working on them now.”
Commissioner Dave Franklin, who is running unopposed for re-election on Dec. 10, said the move to a new retirement system—which cost the district $856,000—is a one-time anomaly. Furthermore, $1.2 million of the pension payment is due to a two-year lag in concluding contract negotiations with the Police Benevolent Association. A meaningful portion of the contribution covers two retroactive years, and thus will also not recur.
However, other issues are more long-term. Insurance and liability costs, for example, have increased 25 percent, Franklin said. “Right now our priority is lowering the budget,” he noted. “I recently calculated the projected salaries through 2020, and the numbers are unsustainable. If we stay the present course we will be out of business sooner than later.”
In other business at the Dec. 4 meeting, the department accepted delivery of one new Ford Interceptor SUV, which staff are currently testing to determine if they want modifications before accepting delivery of three more vehicles, and another four in 2014. These purchases are paid for from asset forfeiture funds.
The department also accepted a $5,000 contribution from Michael Archangel Greek Orthodox Church in appreciation of assistance the department provided during the Greek Festival at North Hempstead Beach Park. Deputy Chief Lieutenant Brian Staley and Sergeant Stephen Cardello were singled out for their efforts.
The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners will take place at Police Headquarters on Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.