War of Words Escalates as Budget Deadline Approaches

Strong words between Harrison's supervisor and police chief show two different schools of thought two weeks before the 2012 budget deadline.

A recent statement from Harrison's police chief criticising  appears to have hit a nerve with Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Joan Walsh. 

Walsh issued a , blasting Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini for what she calls an "arrogant" public presentation that neglected the board's efforts to create a responsible budget during difficult financial times. Walsh went as far as to suggest that the town consider merging with the county police department if current spending levels aren't enough to fund an adequate local force.

The mayor went on to accuse Marraccini of misleading residents and putting the town at risk by suggesting that low spending levels leave the the town vulnerable to criminals.

"This attack by Chief Marraccini, particularly on me but also on the other town board members, comes from one who should know better, who has cleverly used words to give false impressions, who may have put us all at risk by openly stating that his officers may not be able to protect our town, from one who is putting his personal judgment above the collective wisdom of the town board members," Walsh .

Marraccini, meanwhile, isn't backing down from his statements calling the current budget "unrealistic, irresponsible and hazardous". He said this week that the ongoing effort to cut spending has scraped away at the community and will continue to do so unless the town board starts investing more money into its departments.

The exchange between the two once again brings the issue of taxes vs. services to the public forefront.

Harrison's 2012  stands to raise taxes 4.2 percent. Walsh has stressed her administration has worked hard to reduce the tax burden on tax-weary residents, but Marraccini says those cuts have now left the town with staffing levels too low to perform essential services.

Marraccini is asking for eight more police officers in his department, which would cost the town approximately $739,560 per-year and add about 2 percent to the current tax rate increase. The chief acknowledges that spending more money isn't a popular idea, but says the alternative leaves the town's property values at stake.

"I would rather have my taxes go up 5 percent than my property values go down 5 percent," Marraccini said, adding that cuts to community outreach programs and to overall police patrol will eat away at property values unless something is done.

But it isn't necessarily what the chief is asking for that has Walsh upset; it's the way the requests were presented. Walsh has taken issue with the frequent public and private presentations the chief has made portraying the department as under funded. The supervisor said in her statement that the town board has done everything possible to provide the department with what it needs, but that more must be done with less.

"We have hard-working, well-trained, dedicated men and women protecting our town and the board has seldom refused a request for the newest and best for them," Walsh said. "The reality is that today we have to choose carefully how to allocate our dollars."

The chief sees things differently, saying that as a department leader it's his responsibility to let the board know when he doesn't have the resources to do his job. 

"As long as I can remember, I don't remember a police chief's recommendations not even being considered," Marraccini said.

This is not the first time Marraccini has voiced concerns over a proposed budget. In 2010, his first year as chief, Marraccini asked the board for more staff and replacements for aging police cruisers, among other things. The town bonded several new police vehicles in 2011, but staffing levels have remained at similar levels.

Substantial budget changes for any of the town's departments are unlikely at this point. The board chose not to override the 2 percent tax levy cap this year, and the current budget stays just below the cap, leaving little wiggle room for last minute adjustments.

The board must approve a final budget by Dec. 22.

Marraccini said if not this year, the board needs a plan for future hires moving forward. The board added three civilian dispatchers to the police payroll, along with one new full-time officer in 2012. Not enough, according to the chief.

"Unfortunately it's a drop in the bucket," Marraccini said. "If we don't start planning the rebuilding of this department now, we could potentially lose a lot of character that this town has become familiar with."

TTH December 10, 2011 at 02:02 PM
Zach Oliva (Editor) December 10, 2011 at 03:18 PM
I got into this one a little late, but cut it out with the blind accusations. If you have an opinion on the topic or other people's thoughts thats great, but lets all try and keep to the topic.
NAO December 10, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Do people really need to be nasty? Does that get your point across? Does it make you feel better? Do you think that people take your comments more seriously when you who are using a fake name to attack others who are also using a fake name? This is just my opinion, but I think that many people have valid points whether they agree with my opinion or not. I like to read other people's opinions as they present a view that I did not see and can make me expand my point of view. It just makes me sad when I see people who are adults make derogatory comments about people who they don't know if they know just to make a point. Thank you. Naomi
Zach Oliva (Editor) December 10, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Keep to the issues guys, insulting each other back and forth monopolizes the conversation and I think this is an important issue that others might want to talk about. Ross, there were no clear trends in actual arrests from 2009 to 2010 and I haven't gotten the numbers in for this year yet: http://patch.com/A-dxT5. Last year minor citations like marijuana possession were up, while some more violent crimes were up slightly. It doesn't really support any specific argument, but provides some interesting numbers.
T December 10, 2011 at 04:39 PM
revira, maybe you should watch the presentation that the Police put on at the budget meeting. Better yet why don't you go see marraccini and I will bet you he will lay out his whole program. The number of police has a direct impact on programs, enforcement and every day patrols. Lets not forget revenue generation. I don't see any other department pulling in $200,000 over what was projected. $1,350,000 total without that revenue your taxes go up another 5%. Get the facts revira, it doesn't do anyone any good to promote misinformation. Maybe your afraid of the truth. Not only you don't have a clue, you have NO FACTS to support one thing you have said. Pretty hypocritical! As for reading material, may I suggest War and Peace, this should keep you busy for a couple of years.
T December 10, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Zac, Sounds like your numbers are off can you get the numbers for 2011?
Freddie December 10, 2011 at 05:09 PM
This is the last comment I am making on this issue. I have said nothing negative about the police department.They are hard working and very professional. My issue is just being able to afford new officers with the economic condition as they are. Zach is right. Stop the blind accusations. As far as T goes I did not scam my house from a relative. My parents worked hard for my house and died young providing me with a wonderful home.
Ross Revira December 11, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Thanks Zach for proving my point. There is no data to suggest that Harrison's safety is in jeopardy with a smaller police force. Thank you HPD for doing an outstanding job.
Ada December 11, 2011 at 04:36 PM
So is what you are saying is that Harrison has always been a town with two-bit crimminals & low-life vandals that damage private property such as our SUV and can tresspass at 'will' to steal residents' private belongings like the i-pod? Maybe in the section of town 'you' live in, but not in our's! This was not heard of until recently.... Who's been sleeping and 'dreaming'?
NAO December 11, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Zack, your statistics show that the crimes committed do not appear to have risen. I was wondering if you have stats on the number of calls recieved and the number of incidents that have had officers dispatched? Also do you have statistics on the average response time? The reason why I mention this is that the crimes committed is the end result. If does not show the actual effort that was made. I belive that our Police Department is being proactive which uses resources but discourages the crime. So that while crime may have remained relatively stable the effort exerted to keep those stats at that level has increased. Thank you. Naomi
Nurse Ratched December 11, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Even if the call volume has stayed the same,which I doubt because of the inreased violence at St Vincents and influx of crime, there are less cops and supervisors on the road to handle them. Do the math. Can you say burnout??? If Harrison wants an understaffed, worn down police force, then in looks like they will get it. Be careful what you wish for. Make sure to thank Joan on her way out. Keep up the fight Chief, hopefully the majority of the Board will realise the impact this will have on public safety in the forthcomming year. If you know a Harrison Cop, just ask him or her and you will get the real story. Lets give these guys a break allready.
grassroots December 12, 2011 at 06:02 PM
The shepherd has made the most sensable statement of anyone involved in this discussion.You should all REREAD it.The bottom line is we have 39 patrol officers doing the work that only requires 30.
Zach Oliva (Editor) December 12, 2011 at 07:04 PM
I'll request the 2011 numbers.
Freddie December 16, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Does anyone know what what that statement means about the Brentwood Beauty Parlor?????
Pat Angarano December 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM
It looks as if my pleas for more police officers for the “minor crime wave” have not fallen on deaf ears. We will be funded for two new police officers in 2012. Thank you for the town board members who realize safety comes first when managing a town and the increase to the overall taxes was .50 percent! Now did that hurt?
Freddie December 16, 2011 at 11:31 PM
No Pat that did not hurt. 1 officer was in the preliminary budget and one more was added with a .50 increase. Chief Marraccini wanted 8 officers.Two new officers is a good start.
Ada December 16, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Yes Freddie, this is a good start for Harrison! The WAR is over in Iraq after 8+ years and it's also over in Harrison after 4 years. I can see why residents needed to vent, it's been a living hell in this town since 2008 and now we must rebuild and keep that 'good start' in a forward movement, it's 'our' futures we must rebuild for and our childrens futures and so on. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012 I look forward to the REBIRTH of Harrison! Ada Angarano
Freddie December 17, 2011 at 01:15 AM
I agree Happy New Year 2012 . I hope the pride that a lot of residents had before in our town is restored. As the economy improves let's hope some of the services that were taken away will also restored. I would like to see down town built up. I was walking near the bagel shop one day and say how filthy the sidewalks were. It might be nice to have some one clean up the town like they use too. The best of luck to Our New Mayor Ron Belmont and his team.
grassroots December 22, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Ada You seem to be implying that that life has been a living hell while Joan Walsh has been in office .I remind you that she has only one vote on any major decisions concerning Harrison.Try looking at the whole big picture .Thousands of towns across the country are experiencing the same financial crises as Harrison.How much has Obama done to help the economy?Its not a political problem its a business problem,and banking problem.AND IT'S NATIONWIDE .What has the Harrison Chamber of Commerce done to help with the Problem?
grassroots December 22, 2011 at 07:48 PM
The town has just voted to put someone back on the board who's single vote helped allow the towns reserve cash to be spent as a major economic downturn was looming in the near furture.I hope he can use all his financial background to help us in a positive way this time.
grassroots December 22, 2011 at 08:23 PM
In NYC an many towns the property owner or business owner is responable for the sidewalk in front of their business.For someone who is soo concerned about taxes being raised,it seems like your suggesting hiring a crew to do that ?Why not start to issue a summons for dirty store fronts.We already have town employees that can do that.
Ross Revira December 23, 2011 at 12:46 AM
The Chamber of Commerce is supposed to be a non partisan organization advocating for business owners. The president of Harrison's Chamber of Commerce has turned it into her personal Bully Pulpit against soon to be ex Mayor Joan Walsh for some petty so called verbal attack. By any standard Joan Walsh was unqualified to be Mayor. Ada Angarano is even more unqualified to be Chamber president. The only people more stupid are the Chamber members who elected Ada Angarano to lead their organization. What is her qualifications besides a big mouth. Could she be the love child of Joan Walsh? They both seem to have similar characteristics. Ada Angarano wrote: " The nation is in a bad way, don't blame Obama, he has great answers to the problems but without the backing of Congress his hands are tied". Does not that say it all about her lack of intelligence? All mouth no brain.
Freddie December 23, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Grassroots The town did have a employee who cleaned the downtown area. Joan Walsh stopped that.
Freddie December 23, 2011 at 01:19 AM
Ross I remember when Ada wanted to retire as the President of the Chamber. They could not get anyone to take her place. If you think she was unqualified then maybe you should have volunteered. Ada I cannot agree one bit about what you said about Obama. He has done nothing for unemployment. People are still losing their jobs. Many will have unemployment benefits cut off on Dec. 31. I don't like any of the Republican candidates that are running .Everything is skyrocketing . Let's hope 2012 will get better.
Freddie December 23, 2011 at 04:03 AM
The country wanted change Change we got. Unemployment at an all time high,prices of everything from taxes, gas, utilities, food,clothing etc. all increasing. People losing their homes. Families not being able to but food on the table for their families. You will never see the Senate and the House Republicans and Democrats ever agree. Middle Class does not exist anymore. You are either rich or poor. But this is our government and it is better then other countries. You ask what do we do? I wish I knew the answer to that.
TTH December 23, 2011 at 12:43 PM
Ada, Whats Obamas excuse during his first two years in office when he had a majority in both the Senate and Congress, And still has a majority in the Senate
Ross Revira December 23, 2011 at 12:51 PM
The more you speak Ada the more it shows you are clueless.
Harrison @ Halstead December 23, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Hey! Everybody! It's Christmas! Let's just stop it all for a couple of days. Harrison is a great town with a wonderful future ahead of us. Let's just act like the good people we are and call it quits for a couple of days. God bless you all and have the most wonderful of holidays. We have a chance at such a great new year. SALUTE!
Ross Revira December 23, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Merry Christmas lets agree to disagree.
Ada B Angarano December 24, 2011 at 01:01 AM
I guess I may be clueless, as it's almost Christmas I realized that this article really 'caused' a War on Words with residents who once were on a friendly basis (I believe) and we all should take a step back and remember what this town was built on. No more nasty remarks or 'clueless' political opinions from me, it's not my nature to argue or fight with other residents or anyone for that that matter. So I end with: MERRY CHRISTMAS - HAPPY HANNAUKA (spell?) and a very Happy Healthy Prosperous New Year to All (even to Ross R) The War on Words is over for me, TRUCE/PEACE................Ada


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