LAKE PLACID - A request from New York State Police to be paid for helping out at the Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid is off the table - for now.
State Police had asked the Lake Placid-Essex County Visitors Bureau and race coordinators for payment for providing crowd control and race management at this year's triathlon. In years past, the work was done free-of-charge.
But State Senator Betty Little said the proposal has been tabled pending further discussion.
After speaking with State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt, Little said the parties involved decided to revisit the issue at a later date.
"The state police are under pressure to bring in more revenue and to not have overtime and find means of paying for their overtime if they can," Little said. "The event does bring in a lot of money to Essex County, it brings in sales tax to Essex County and in just those three days brings in sales tax to the state of New York -- they get four percent."
Little told Corbitt that neither the Visitors Bureau nor Essex County had allocated any funds to pay police this year. "And they agreed and said they wouldn't ask for payment," she said.
Ironman Lake Placid race director Jeff Edwards said the presence of state troopers during the event ensures the safety and well-being of both the athletes and the general public. He said the open dialogue between all parties led to a reasonable solution.
"As was the case with recent discussions regarding the condition of Route 73, everyone is working together to improve public safety," Edwards said. "The New York State Police are vital to the success of the event."
The initial request drew some skepticism from area officials, including North Elba Town Supervisor Roby Politi, who said the economic downturn is putting significant pressure on state agencies to find new revenue.
"Unfortunately there is a sad state of financial affairs right now in Albany, and they're looking for ways to save money or generate revenue," Politi said. "So they want to utilize this particular event which is so important to this region."
But Politi, who met with Senator Little last Friday, said the decision to wait until next year is best for all parties.
"This way, we have more time to find a solution that is appropriate for both state police and the people of Essex County," he said.
Major Richard Smith, Commander of Ray Brook-based State Police Troop B, said negotiations to pay troopers for their work have been ongoing since the first Ironman came to the Lake Placid region 11 years ago. He says it was the Visitors Bureau that first offered the idea of paying troopers.
"During the original discussions about how we would police the event, how many personnel would be required, etc., the Lake Placid Visitors Bureau was a prominent partner in going forward seeking funding streams to reimburse the state police for the costs associated with providing public safety during the event," Smith said.
Smith said the state paid $53,000 in overtime to troopers working the event last year. They requested to have a portion of that overtime reimbursed this year.
"We're not just helping out at the Ironman," Smith said. "We have our regular responsibilities as well. That's a lot of overtime."
Despite the decision by Superintendent Corbitt to rescind the request, Visitors Bureau Executive Director James McKenna says a deal should be made by the 2010 Ironman.
"We need their help, and they do a great job," McKenna said. "It's only right that we do our best to reimburse them at some point."