Binghamton Police Chief Voices Budget Concerns

By Julianne Sweeney

July 22, 2010 Updated Sep 2, 2009 at 6:11 PM EDT

Managing a police department with 13 fewer men and women.

That's what Binghamton Police Chief Joe Zikuski is facing if next year's proposed budget is adopted.

Action News Reporter Julianne Sweeney sat down with Chief Zikuski , who shares his thoughts on the future of the department.

"Being the Chief ya know, I don't control the numbers, City Council controls those numbers...so I'm going to do my best to get the job done." said Zikuski.

Binghamton Police Chief Joe Zikuski could soon head an even smaller department.

4 positions were cut this year.

Next year's proposed budget calls for eliminating 13 more.

7 of the 13 positions are already vacant and a few people plan to retire.

But Zikuski expects at least 2 to 5 of the newest hires would be laid off.

"People are going to lose their jobs, people are upset, you got to expect that. We knew it was going to come to this." said Zikuski.

With fewer men and women on the street, officers will have to step in to pick up the slack.

The Chief says it's his job to control overtime costs.

Despite the possible downsize in force, Zikuski is confident the department would be able to protect the city adequately.

If it needed backup, he says Binghamton has a good working relationship with the Broome County Sheriff's Office and other departments.

When asked about consolidating police services, Zikuski does not think that would solve the City's financial problems and save jobs.

"I still keep an open mind, but the people that know a lot more about this than I know say there's not a lot of money to be saved." said Zikuski.

Zikuski says tax payers have a choice.

If they want the same size force, they'll have engage with city leaders on taxes, services, and spending.

The 2010 proposed budget includes a 7.99 property tax increase.

The Mayor's Personnel Commission looked at switching to the police department to a 12-hour work schedule.

It would be a way to reduce overtime costs and rotate working weekends.

But, the Chief says that he and the City are no longer considering this option.

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