During the recession of 2008, Saratoga County leaders tabled a plan to build a new multi-million-dollar public safety building. As Matt Hunter reports, while some elected officials would like to revisit the proposal, others believe there are better ways to spend taxpayers' money.
SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. – While Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett says he isn't necessarily opposed to considering a new Saratoga County public safety building down the road, he doesn't believe the time is right now.
"A brand new public safety building, are there some merits to it? Yes, certainly there would be some reasons to do that," Barrett said Monday. “The county just overrode the tax cap and now to immediately look to spend another $20-25 million or maybe more, depending ... I think it is too much too soon."
Instead of backing Public Safety Committee Chairman Paul Lent's recent proposal to construct a new building that would ease overcrowding and house the sheriff's office, probation department and dispatch center, Barrett would rather see the county hire additional deputies.
"I had offered a motion for 15 new sheriff's deputies to be hired,” Barrett said. “I still feel that is the proper level of staffing we need."
The former chairman of the public safety committee, Barrett would also like to see the county go back to relying on a network of small substations in various communities. The towns of Halfmoon and Clifton Park house the county's only two remaining offices.
"It is a more cost-effective and efficient deployment of assets, and it also provides a presence in our communities," said Barrett, who added the town pays the rent for the small office located at Clifton Park Center Mall.
Lent, who used to work as county emergency services director before seeking elected office, did not answer repeated requests for comment. Barrett maintains hiring more deputies is a better use of taxpayer dollars.
"The county population overall has grown substantially over the last 15 to 20 years,” Barrett said. “We need to ensure we are providing the sheriff the proper staffing and funding and equipment and assets to do his job."