NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Senator Greg Ball (R, C - Patterson) appeared at a recent town board meeting to report on the years advances in the state legislature. The progress we made in Albany this year was significant, Ball said. With bi-partisan support, several important issues were resolved. Ball cited the property tax cap, the state budget, and mandate relief, and talked about his role as chairman of the committee for Homeland Security, Veterans and Naval Affairs.
Ball said the committee researched the current state of the security measures implemented after 9/11 and found them badly enforced. Examples of such failures included absence of security guards at the Port Authority and the Hudson River bridges and tunnels, lack of security checks on the JFK AirTrain, inoperable police and emergency radios. He repeatedly said he felt, We, in the suburbs, are vulnerable because anyone attacking New York City will come through New Jersey, western Connecticut or Westchester.
Ball said he feels control of emergency services needs to be fortified, not only in terms of diligence but also because his constituents are among the first responders.
North Salem Police Chief Thomas Howley asked, I understand that the state police have not been holding academy classes. Are there any scheduled? Ball said as far as he knew there were none due to recent budget cuts. The state police are spread very thin throughout the state, he said.
Supervisor Warren Lucas explained that this is a particular problem for North Salem, especially in terms of tickets issued on Interstate 684 for motor violations.
The fact that there is now one state police officer in four towns means we have to provide more people of our own. I have to provide a court room, a judge, a court clerk and police officers. We need an attorney there. We do all the processing. The average ticket is for $85. The town gets $15 of that. The state made $384,000 through us on tickets last year. We lost $110,000. If we could just break even, just make enough to run the court, it would make up for a lot.
Lucas also talked about the heavy burden of unfunded mandates -- standards that the state requires of the town but does not pay for. As an example, he said that the cost of painting one of the town buildings quadruples, partly because the state requires testing for lead paint. It has already been shown that there is no lead paint in the building. We cannot build a new courthouse because the state mandates what it should look like.
Ball agreed that unfunded mandates are a problem for many small towns and it is an issue that will receive further attention.
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