It’s an issue that law enforcement and District Attorneys have been raising concerns about for the last few months, that these new criminal justice bills are placing a strain on their already tight budgets. And now the Mayor of the Village of Freeport is saying he has had to find another way to cover these added costs.
"We haven’t raised taxes in the Village of Freeport in 7 years," said Robert Kennedy.
Kennedy is not only the Mayor of the Village of Freeport, he is also President of the State Conference of Mayors. And he says that he has already had to raise taxes in his town by 5.7%.
"It’s officially done and we’ve pierced the tax cap," Kennedy explained.
Kennedy is a Democratic Mayor, but says that the criminal justice bills passed in January failed to provide adequate funding to cover these new mandates. Local police departments must hire additional staff or pay for overtime hours to comply with the new discovery laws.
"If they give us sixty days for discovery I wouldn’t have to keep police officers in providing the discovery on 30-40 thousand cases," Kennedy said.
Kennedy is asking the Legislature to either allow for more time for prosecutors to hand over evidence or more money to handle these additional costs.
"If you’re not incarcerating them give us the sixty days we can really reduce the amount of money its going to cost us," said Kennedy.
In his budget, Governor Cuomo is pushing to include a new discovery compensation fund that would direct $2 million to district attorneys statewide. Senator Jamaal Bailey says he is in talks with other Democratic members.
"We’re looking at possibly increasing funding for discovery reform," confirmed Bailey.
Kennedy says any changes to discovery reform funding should be passed as a stand alone bill separate from the main budget package.