Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach’s decision to freeze about $200,000 seized by the Ulster Regional Gang Enforcement Narcotics Team forces police to use taxpayer dollars to run the program instead of cash seized from drug dealers, county Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum said Tuesday.Van Blarcum's statement is patently absurd. The department budget, which includes the administering of the county jail, is a little over $21 million. Thus, Auerbach's temporary freeze amounts to less than one tenth of one percent of the overall budget. We're not talking chump change, mind you, but were also not talking about something that will have any noticeable effect on anyone's property taxes -- especially when you consider that the audit should leave the taxpayers in a better position in that we'll know how the money has been, and will be, spent. How is this "screwing the taxpayers"?
Money seized by the team, known as URGENT, pays for such expenses as overtime, equipment and confidential parts of the operation, Van Blarcum said.
“At the end of the day, it’s screwing the citizens of Ulster County,” said the sheriff, who, like Auerbach, is a Democrat. “Now we have to use taxpayer money to continue our fight against drugs and gangs instead of drug dealer money.”
Van Blarcum, who up until a few days ago seemed like a well-meaning guy, is acting like a man who knows he has something to hide. If there's nothing going on here, he needs to dial down the rhetoric and cooperate with the comptroller. All he's doing with this hyperbole is piquing everyone's curiosity.