As an incorporated village, what options would Edgemont have for police services?
The Village will have sufficient budgetary capacity at Edgemont's current Town tax rate to choose among a number of potential options for the delivery of police services including an inter-municipal agreement ("IMA") with the Town of Greenburgh; an IMA with Westchester County; or a dedicated Edgemont Village police force.
TOWN OF GREENBURGH POLICE
Would the Town of Greenburgh Police Department be willing to contract with the Village of Edgemont?
Because the Town of Greenburgh has significant fixed costs embedded in its police department, the EIC believes that continuing to provide the same or similar services to an incorporated Edgemont under a fixed-percentage inter-municipal agreement (click here for an example) would be financially beneficial to the Town and motivate Greenburgh to negotiate mutually agreeable contract terms. Further, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner recently expressed support for shared services. However, we cannot predict with certainty whether Greenburgh will ultimately be willing and able to enter into an IMA for police services with the Village of Edgemont, or the cost of any such arrangement.
How much would an Edgemont-Greenburgh inter-municipal agreement for police cost the new village?
The Greenburgh Police Department's 2018 net budgeted costs are:
- $19.5 million base cost (salaries, contractual, and charges from other Town departments); plus
- $9.5 million estimated benefits (55% of salaries, OT, etc.); minus
- $2.0 million of departmental revenues; equals
- $27.0 million
Edgemont currently contributes 26.6% of the property tax revenues but only 11.5% of all other funding sources revenue (including building fees, ambulance transport revenue, sales taxes, etc.) to the Town's "B" budget. Since property taxes are only 75% of the total budget, Edgemont’s fully blended contribution to the unincorporated budget is about 23% of total revenue.
The Town does not publish its actual cost to provide police service to Edgemont (or to any other area) and has not responded to EIC requests for clear guidance on costs by neighborhood. In the absence of that data, we logically applied Edgemont's "revenue neutral contribution ratio" of 23% (see above) to the GPD’s net cost of $27 million (including benefits) resulting in an allocation of approximately $6.2 million.
The IMA would likely include provisions for pro rata capital debt service (e.g. equipment utilized in service to Edgemont) and contract administration. At an estimated additional $300,000 (5%), the total projected IMA cost is $6.5 million.
But some opponents of incorporation insist that an Edgemont-Greenburgh police IMA would cost about $7 million. If they’re correct, does Edgemont have sufficient revenue to fund the contract without raising taxes?
Yes. The $7 million figure cited by some opponents assumes Edgemont is charged at its property assessment ratio (26.6%). If that higher factor were utilized, Edgemont would still have sufficient revenue at current Town tax rates to fund the contract and still operate at a comfortable budget surplus. Click here for that budget scenario.
Would the contract cover basic life support EMS services currently provided by the Greenburgh Police to the unincorporated area?
Yes. The primary "B" budget cost of EMS is GPD patrol officer stipends, which are embedded in the GPD salaries line item. Under an IMA, the Town would continue to collect all ambulance transport fees in the unincorporated area; these revenues more than offset "B" budget EMS expenses.
Click here for more information on EMS.
Does the EIC have any other indication of Greenburgh's costs to provide police service in Edgemont?
Edgemont is 13% of GPD emergency call volume (according to Chief McNerney). The Village is 15% of unincorporated land area and 17% of unincorporated population.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY POLICE
Would the Westchester County Department of Public Safety be willing to contract with the Village of Edgemont?
Yes. Westchester County Executive George Latimer has expressed interest in working with a new Village of Edgemont and has identified shared service arrangements as a general policy priority of the County.
The County's police force--with more than 300 employees--historically has focused on parks, parkways, and specialized services, but has recently entered into local patrol contracts with the Village/Town of Mt. Kisco and the Town of Cortlandt as authorized by County law.
The EIC has closely studied the service levels and costs written into the County's police contract with Mt. Kisco. Of particular interest is “Schedule A” which sets forth very specific, measurable service level requirements including dedicated, around-the-clock village patrols (which Edgemont does not currently enjoy as an unincorporated neighborhood of Greenburgh) and ready backup from the County's 300-plus staff of sworn officers.
Click here to read more about the scope of services offered by the Westchester County Department Public Safety.
What service level could the County provide to Edgemont Village?
The IMA with the County would include dedicated 24/7 village patrols; resources specifically focused on Central Avenue; a ratio of 3.2 officers per 1,000 resident (vs. 2.7 we receive from Greenburgh today); and access to the County’s substantial pool of patrol and specialized resources that secure County parkways, parks, and facilities, many of which are in the immediate Edgemont area.
How much would an IMA with the County Police cost?
The Mt. Kisco police contract, which cost just over $6 million in 2017, is instructive as it provides for the service levels that the EIC's consulting team believes would be more-than-sufficient for Edgemont. Further, the County Office of Budget indicated that $6 million is a reasonable estimate for Edgemont considering that Mt. Kisco's population is 50% larger than Edgemont's.
(Note: Westchester County police IMAs are charged on an "actual cost-of-service" basis.)
The exact cost of an IMA with the County cannot be determined prior to incorporation.
Would the Village be required to finance a local police facility for the County under an IMA?
No. If Edgemont Village contracts with the County, there would be no need for an Edgemont station. In fact, the Mt. Kisco station (made available to the County from the former village police force) is often unoccupied.
How common is it for county police agencies to serve incorporated villages?
In Westchester, the County only patrols locally in Mt. Kisco and Cortlandt. However, on Long Island, Nassau County provides police protection to 38 of its 64 villages.
EDGEMONT VILLAGE POLICE
As an alternative to an inter-municipal agreement, could the Village of Edgemont develop its own police force? How much would it cost?
Yes. Currently, 22 of 23 Westchester villages maintain their own police departments. While the EIC believes that a contractual arrangement with the Town or County is preferable upon incorporation, the Village of Edgemont will have ample budgetary resources to fund a village police department with:
- 24/7 village coverage at very high levels (3.2 officers per 1,000 residents vs. Greenburgh's 2.7);
- Dedicated Central Avenue patrols; and
- Local facilities, including an Edgemont-based police headquarters.
Click here to review the financial feasibility of this approach. The analysis was undertaken by William Connors, former Rye City Police Commissioner and consultant to the EIC. Total costs of $6 million include operating ($5.5 million) and debt service ($500,000).
OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT POLICE
How would the Village of Edgemont document its police arrangement if it were to contract with the Town or County?
Arrangements between local governments, such as the police agreement discussed above, are typically documented via inter-municipal agreements (“IMAs”). Like any contract, they are subject to negotiation as to mutually acceptable service levels and costs. IMAs are common in New York and elsewhere and shared initiatives for police and other services are encouraged by New York State legislation and policy.
Below are examples of inter-governmental agreements for police services between New York State municipalities:
- Westchester County and Town/Village of Mt. Kisco.
- Village of Ossining and Town of Ossining.
- Village of East Aurora and Town of Aurora.
- Westchester County and Town of Cortlandt.
Would an incorporated Edgemont still be entitled to “enhanced” police services from the Town and Westchester County?
Yes. Regardless of how police is delivered within an incorporated Edgemont, the incorporated Village would remain a part of Greenburgh, just like the six existing villages. Edgemont residents would continue to pay:
- Town-wide taxes, which would entitle the Village to GPD SWAT, traffic control, civil defense, advanced life support, and all associated equipment including ambulances and fly cars; and
- County taxes, which covers a number of high-level specialized services including 911 dispatch, a special response team, K-9 units, bomb squad, and aviation.
Would the Village of Edgemont have the added protection of a police mutual aid program?
Yes. Regardless of how the Village delivers police, Edgemont--just like all cities, towns, and villages in Westchester--would be a party to the Westchester County Mutual Aid and Rapid Response Plan ("MARRP"). Under the MARRP, each agency receives (and agrees to provide) assistance and cooperation to: “provide the uninterrupted delivery of police service during those situations that exceed the resources of any individual department.” The municipalities in Edgemont’s “zone” are the six Greenburgh villages, the Town of Greenburgh, the Town/Village of Scarsdale, the City of White Plains, and the City of Yonkers. Favorably, the entities within Edgemont's mutual aid zone include many nearby large units of government with sophisticated services and equipment.
Bottom line: is the Village of Edgemont guaranteed police coverage upon incorporation and perpetually? Will we have the resources?
Yes. Town Law 150 clearly states that a town must provide police services, indefinitely, to a village that does not have its own police force. The Village of Edgemont would receive police services from the Town of Greenburgh for as long as necessary (assuming the Village does not provide for one itself, either directly or via contract).
In 1995, the New York State Attorney General confirmed that towns may not offer such police services selectively: "The legislative intent behind this statutory framework is clear... if a town maintains a police department, it is required to provide law enforcement services throughout the town, including any village which does not have its own police department."
Edgemont's ample village tax revenues (over $15 million vs. $11 million collected by Hastings, for example) and comfortable projected budget surplus will afford our governing body the flexibility to secure outstanding police protection services under multiple scenarios.