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Police service would cost Saltaire residents above $1M

If the tony Fire Island Village of Saltaire paid what most Suffolk residents do for county police services, the village administrator said homeowners would be hit with an annual bill "north of $1 million."

The exclusive enclave of 400 waterfront homes did not pay for day-to-day police services for the past 50 years. The village also received county sales-tax revenue sharing for public safety, even though the village has no police department. The village was budgeted to receive $1,822 last year and $1,977 this year, county officials said.

The disclosure comes as County Executive Steve Levy is expected to put an emergency resolution before lawmakers Tuesday charging Saltaire $86.62 per hour for any police officer who responds to a 911 call, resident's request for service or village officials asking for service. Levy aides could not say how much the deal will net the county. Neither Levy, police or village officials could say how many calls they received last year or how many calls they expect under the proposed deal.

Critics maintain the deal still gives the village unfair advantage over other taxpayers who foot the bulk of the bill for having police available.

Village officials counter that the beachfront village, where the main thoroughfare is a boardwalk, has its own unsworn private security employees and has little need for police services.

When the village board approved the deal two weeks ago, Village Administrator Mario Posillico told trustees he was "budgeting $5,000 based on past experience of the people on the ground." But Posillico said Monday he was referring to a figure put in the 2009-10 budget and he called the amount a "place holder" because he did not know what the actual cost would be.

Posillico told trustees that if the village were part of the police district it would cost taxpayers "north of $1 million." The legislature's Office of Budget Review Monday said village taxpayers collectively would pay $1.16 million if part of the police district.

When the police district was formed in 1960, Saltaire along with East End towns and several villages in western Suffolk opted not to be part of the police district that covers Suffolk's five western towns. But unlike other municipalities, Saltaire never formed a police department, leaving the county to provide police service.

Posillico said the village uses the revenue-sharing payment to help pay for the unsworn village security employees who enforce the village code.

County Attorney Christine Malafi said she was unaware of the sales-tax payments.

"When we found it, we tried to fix it right away and we're doing the best we can with what we have," she said.

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