Amityville Village trustees are considering whether to ask the state Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments for some help. This rather new board can give advice about financial planning and the sharing of services with other communities -- and it can grant as much as $5 million in aid to villages that implement that advice.
In Amityville, though, the problems aren't hard to diagnose or fix, and a cash infusion from the state's taxpayers isn't justified.
Amityville, which would be the first Long Island municipality to go to the board, meets the standards for help. A municipality has to have high property tax rates or a low average fund balance, and this one has both -- mostly because it spends so much on the village police.
More than 50 percent of the village's $15.4 million budget this year is going to police, including $1.3 million in separation pay for four retiring officers. Even in recent years when there weren't a lot of retirements, the 24-officer force ate more than 40 percent of the village budget.
The village has tried to get the well-compensated officers to renegotiate their contract, which runs through 2018. In addition to other smaller changes, officials last year proposed freezing the base pay of officers who had grossed more than $150,000 in 2013, which would have included 20 of the 24 officers. The union refused.
It would be cheaper for village residents if Amityville dissolved its force and went with county policing, even with the addition of county police district taxes on local bills. Still, Amityville residents have the right to have whatever force they choose. They just don't have the right to expect anyone else to help pay for it.