Updated: May 12, 2020 11:32 PM
Created: May 12, 2020 12:16 PM
WATERVLIET - It's no secret the pandemic has been opening massive holes in state and city budgets. The City of Watervliet is considering surprising cuts to help close the $1.2 million shortfall.
Watervliet Mayor Charles Patricelli confirmed the city looking at potentially furloughing or even eliminating the city's police chief position.
Patricelli said it's either the chief or three officers that would be either furloughed or laid off.
"It would be a heartbreak for me to leave this position,” chief Anthony Geraci said.
Geraci just took office in July.
"I was the first chief to come from outside of this agency in the 124-year history,” Geraci said. “They brought me here for a reason."
Geraci’s hiring came on the heels of several corruption scandals involving officers within the city police department. He said in the last 10 months he's seen tremendous results, but that progress may be cut short.
“No matter what we do we won't be able to reach that number but we are looking at unfortunately we're looking at some areas and it was the area of the police chief or furlough the police chief or furloughing three officers,” Patricelli said. “That would be three officers that we take off the street."
Geraci said if given the choice, he'll take himself off the payroll and keep the three officers on staff.
"Even if it was one person you know, if I was posed with that question me or someone else you know I would definitely step aside,” Geraci said. “Not that I want to turn my back on the city or the department but you know I think you have to make courageous decisions during times of crisis."
Geraci said he hasn't been given a timeline on when those decisions will be made, but he said if he is laid off or furloughed, the department's executive officer would assume his responsibilities.
Patricelli said triaging the budget is the priority right now. Unfortunately that means having discussions about cutbacks that he's calling "agonizing."
"How we look at it come down the future is going to depend on how this all plays out later on this year and in the years to come,” Patricelli said.
Patricelli said Watervliet City Council has already given city hall the power to make whatever changes necessary. He said the sooner they can make those decisions the better.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.
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