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Salary freeze OKed

TICONDEROGA - The 2011 town budget isn't due for months, but the Ticonderoga town board has started work on the spending plan with an eye on the bottom line.

"We've started our budget process and we feel good about it," Supervisor Deb Malaney said. "We've asked all department heads to submit their requests for next year while keeping increases a 0 percent.

"We're going to work hard to keep spending at current levels - or less," she said.

As part of the budget process the town is beginning talks with its employee unions on new contracts. Malaney believes town employees will work with the board to hold down expenses.

"These are tough times," Malaney said, noting the national recession. "We all have to ban together and do what's best for the town."

Malaney praised the Ticonderoga Police Department. It's union members have already agreed to take no pay increase in 2011.

"A lot of thought and discussion went into the decision we made," said Randy Bevins of the police union. "We, as a department, wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem. We saw the recent property re-valuation and the difficulties our citizens have faced in these unprecedented economic times and felt we needed to contribute to the health of our community.

"We discussed this topic as a unit and all agreed that, even though this affects us not only now, but deep into our respective retirements, we are paid to protect and serve the citizens of Ticonderoga," Bevins said. "To that end, we did agree to give up any wage increases for 2011 and continue our current contract as is."

Bevins said the town board did not ask for a police pay freeze.

"This was a decision of the membership of the Ticonderoga Police Department to do whatever we can to deliver our best service to our citizens and, at the same time, make the necessary sacrifices to ensure a better future for Ticonderoga," Bevins said.

Malaney also lauded the Ti PD for "smart decisions."

The department recently received a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe through the Essex County Stop DWI Program. That program will provide $10,000 a year for three years to pay for that vehicle.

The Ticonderoga Police Department has also purchased a new detective's vehicle for the fleet, replacing a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria with 160,000 miles. This unmarked police vehicle was purchased using funds from drug forfeitures.

"The police department has found ways to improve services without using local taxpayer money," Malaney said. "They're doing a great job."

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