Harder: Potential merger taking too long

By Perry Russom

August 21, 2013 Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 11:42 PM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County Sheriff David Harder said Endicott Police Benevolent Association president Dennis DeWitte is intentionally dragging out the process of the potential merger of the two agencies.

"It's taking too long," Harder said. "There's a lot of misinformation going on in the meantime."

Harder said some of that information is who will pay for the department.

According to Harder, only residents in Endicott will pay for the potential new district.

No one else in the county.

"If the police union decides they want more people, it will cost the village people more money," said Harder.

He said Endicott residents would save nearly 3 percent on property taxes, based on a village formula that shows a reduction of 1 percent per $75,000 cut from the general fund.

In a phone interview, DeWitte said property taxes would never go down. But Endicott Treasurer Anthony Bates confirmed Harder's statement that property taxes would go down, assuming there were no other increases in the budget. That means any reduction is not a guarantee.

Harder accused DeWitte of asking frivolous questions to stall the process.

"He came out with a statement that it was all smoke and mirrors and I said these are no smoke and mirrors," said Harder. "These are facts."

DeWitte said Harder hasn't approached the talks with any monetary value. He also said the Endicott Police Department provides the same -- if not better -- service as the Broome County Sheriff's Office.

There is no timetable for a decision on the merger.