Guilderland residents spoke out en masse Tuesday, March 17, against a proposal by Councilman Warren Redlich that would direct police officers to not write tickets for DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, offenses where defendants register a 0.04 or 0.05 blood-alcohol content.
Redlich proposed the measure to increase the efficiency of the court because DWAI tickets are commonly thrown out by judges.
However, at that Tuesday Town Board meeting, a motion to seek permission from the state to hire an additional town justice passed 4-to-1, with Redlich dissenting, adding that it is an expense the town cannot afford.
Town Supervisor Ken Runion said that although the court system operated at a profit, hiring an additional justice should not be decided on whether the town will make or lose revenue.
You can't base everything on dollars and cents, he said. "We have an obligation to the town, and services cost money."
Councilwoman Patricia Slavick echoed that sentiment, stating the board should base decisions on more than a financial cost-benefit analysis.
Redlich said he is concerned that the additional justice will be too expensive and strain the already stretched budget even further. He estimated the cost of an additional justice, including salary, benefits and possible additional staff, would come to between $60,000 and $100,000.
"We just decided to spend $100,000 at a time when we have a serious fiscal crisis at the national, state and local level," Redlich said, of the motion passed by the board.
He said other towns, such as Bethlehem, Rotterdam and Clifton Park, generate more revenue each year, and only have two justices.
Redlich's suggestion about the DWAI tickets was one of a number he made to make the town court more efficient. He also suggested having more cases handled by mail and staggering the times people come into court.