NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Niagara Falls city council has approved its 2018 budget and it will mean fewer officers on the streets. The council voted to cut four positions from the police department.
In a unanimous vote, Niagara Falls city council approved the 2018 budget. After weeks of meetings, there have been several changes the proposed 14% tax hike for business owners was cut in half and now homeowners will only see a tax increase of less than one percent.
But one of the biggest changes involves cuts to the Niagara Falls police department.
“I realize that there’s tough financial decisions that need to be made right now in the city of Niagara Falls but I don’t think a cut to public safety is smart in any way,” said Chief Bryan DalPorto of the Niagara Falls police department.
“If our chief can’t function and keep our streets safe as they were now with five less officers something’s wrong,” said Councilman Charles Walker.
Four officers took incentives offered by the council for early retirement and will do so at the end of the year. There’s currently an open position for a patrol officer which leaves a total of five positions that now won’t be filled.
“It’s going to mean less officers in patrol cars. Every community meeting that I attend in the city of Niagara Falls, every organization that I go to the common thread is that they want more officers on the street,” said Chief DalPorto.
“There’s officers who are working indoors at desk jobs overseeing inmates, I mean those can be civilian jobs and you can save money that way,” said Councilman Walker.
DalPorto says the lost positions were patrol officers and detectives. He says he believes there were other options, but Councilman Walker says the council exhausted all other options.
“We can no longer afford a police department the size that we have and the salaries that we pay,” said Councilman Walker.
The budget is now in the hands of the mayor who has five days to veto any parts of it. But the council, with a majority vote, can override his decision.