GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council reduced Mayor Vince DeSantis’ proposed $4.2 million 2023 police budget by approximately $62,000 Monday during the first of the city’s four scheduled budget hearings.
Spending for the Gloversville Police Dept. is the largest component of the mayor’s $21.5 million proposed budget, accounting for $4.167 million after the council’s cuts Monday.
The police department’s budget does not include health insurance nor pension costs because the city budget includes the cost of all employee fringe benefits together in one budget line, equaling $6.5 million for DeSantis’ proposed budget.
GPD Captain Mike Garavelli discussed his department’s 2023 proposed budget Monday night with the members of the council, along with GPD Lt. Brad Schaffer.
Garavelli said the GPD currently has 30 officers on staff, less than the 37 officers funded in the city’s 2022 budget which included two additional police officer slots the department has not yet been able to fill due largely to too few applicants taking the Fulton County’s police civil service exams.
Garavelli said he anticipates the GPD’s rost will shrink to 29 soon with one officer leaving to take a job with the New York state Police. He said his department is looking at two potential “lateral transfers” from other police agencies to help bolster GPD’s ranks.
Garavelli and DeSantis for the 2023 budget proposed hiring four part-time police clerks at a cost of approximately $76,000 to help handle the increased paperwork and data processing demands placed on police departments from New York state’s bail and discovery reform laws.
“After a busy weekend, it takes hours and hours to upload all of that stuff that either the officers have to do directly, or we’ve tasked our public safety secretary with doing it somedays, so it takes away from her main duties, from our guys’ duties,” Garavelli said.
During the budget hearing, 2nd Ward Councilman Art Simonds expressed skepticism regarding the theory that the four clerks were needed or would significantly reduce the workload on GPD officers. After a discussion about the issue, the council agreed to compromise and try hiring two part-time police clerks for 2023 as a pilot program, trimming the budget request by about $38,000, accounting for most of the budget reduction.
Garavelli said the part-time police clerks will not be involved in the chain of evidence for any police cases, with their efforts only focused on the clerical aspects of scanning documents and data entry. He said he thinks the clerks could potentially become a source of new police officer recruits.
“If we can recruit and retain some people out of the criminal justice program at Fulton-Montgomery Community College or HFM BOCES, or even just people who have an interest in law enforcement, that may spark an interest in law enforcement and pull back the curtain a little bit and show the inner workings,” Garavelli said. “It’s not all glamorous. There’s a lot of paperwork involved.”
DeSantis praised the idea of hiring the part-time clerks as a method of reducing the paperwork stress on the GPD and possibly bolstering their recruitment pool.
“I think that was a fantastic idea, Captain,” DeSantis said, praising Garavelli.
The council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. tonight for a budget hearing for the fire department and the departments of the city assessor, city clerk and mayor’s office.
Here is the rest of the 2023 budget hearing schedule:
• Wednesday 6 p.m. — Transit department, then Department of Public Works,
• Thursday 6 pm. — city finance department and then non-union salary personnel