Towns to pay more for law enforcement
Jefferson County Board of Supervisors today approved changing the formula for payment of law enforcement coverage in the county’s incorporated towns outside of Fairfield.
A few towns’ rates will double while Maharishi Vedic City’s rate increases dramatically — and all smaller county towns’ rates increase.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office began law enforcement coverage of the county’s towns 12 years ago, said supervisor chairman Steve Burgmeier at today’s special meeting.
“The initial contracts for the towns has not changed in 12 years,” he said. “We based the rates on the total taxable valuation of each incorporated city. Annual payments from each town were made to the sheriff’s department. It has brought in $15,0000 to $20,000 a year.
“That’s probably not covering what it costs.”
Jefferson County Sheriff-elect Gregg Morton said the sheriff’s office has federally mandated compliance upgrades, but the federal government does not provide funding for the upgrades.
He said he couldn’t put a dollar figure on uniformed patrol hours and miles sheriff deputies incur in each town because no log is kept of when a county sheriff enters an incorporated city’s limits and how much time the patrol is there. Calls for assistance are logged.
Burgmeier proposed changing the method of calculation of figuring an annual rate for law enforcement coverage from taxable valuation amounts to a per capita calculation — each town would pay the same rate per person, using the 2010 Census data.
He suggested a rate of $24.98 per person.
Three mayors, Kenny McCarty of Lockridge, Dave Dickey of Packwood and Randy Major of Batavia and the mayor’s representative from Maharishi Vedic City, Kent Boyum, attended the meeting to hear the supervisors’ discussion and to provide input.
Supervisor Lee Dimmitt calculated the new rates, multiplying $24.98 by population figures.
“Where are we going to get the money?” asked McCarty. “Tax allotments are around $3,600 right now.
“That’s a hell of a jump.”
Lockridge’s population of 268 multiplied by $24.98 is $6,695, compared to the rate of $2,093 based on valuation.
McCarty asked if Lockridge could receive part of any traffic ticket charges issued in his town.
Morton explained that only cities providing their own law enforcement could do that.
“You have to realize the county gets a very small part, $5, of the tickets,” said Morton. “The majority goes to the state.”
Dickey said he had come prepared to accept a rate of inflation adjustment, not a sizeable increase such as Burgmeier proposed.
“This doubles our payment,” he said.
Packwood’s population of 204 multiplied by $24.98 is $5,096, compared to the rate of $1,958 based on taxable valuation.
“This formula is a big sticker shock,” said Dimmitt.
Major asked if it was fair to give the small towns such a big increase.
“I’m interested in is it fair for payment of law enforcement coverage,” said Burgmeier.
Dickey asked, “Hypothetically, what would happen if we didn’t sign the contract? [for law enforcement coverage].
McCarty said having some type of law enforcement coverage is a state law.
“We are required by law to respond to all 9-1-1 calls,” said Morton.
Supervisor Dick Reed asked the mayors what they thought appropriate.
“We have four towns represented here, and you guys want and need the service,” he said. “We have to come somewhere in the middle. I personally don’t see making this jump to those numbers.
“I like the idea of basing the rate on population, but these numbers are budget-breakers.”
Dimmitt suggested phasing in the nearly $25 rate per person over the next three years. The contracts were written for three years and automatically renew if no action is taken.
Burgmeier suggested a rate of $10 per person the first year, increasing to $17.50 the second year and to $25 the third year.
“I don’t know if a $10 rate is enough,” he said.
Reed said he thought the suggested rates were still too much, he could accept those numbers over a nine-year span.
“I’m looking for some input from the sheriff about costs, vehicle expenses, employee pay and uniform costs; what’s it cost to cover these towns?” asked Reed. “I was expecting to see a presentation from the sheriff.”
Morton said he didn’t realize he had been expected to provide a presentation and reiterated it was difficult to come up with costs when the time and mileage are not logged, and different deputies are paid at different rates.
“I think we need to get to the $25 rate per person in three years,” said Burgmeier.
Reed suggested resting the discussion and picking it back up Monday, but Dickey said he’d like it settled now.
Burgmeier and Reed agreed to approve a rate of $15 per person annually and revisit the issue in one year. Dimmitt voted no, saying the beginning rate should be $10.
“I know we can pay our fair share,” said Major. “But I haven’t had time to absorb this and figure out how to pay for it. And we need to begin working on our budgets.”
McCarty asked if the annual payment could be split into two payments instead of one as it has been.
The supervisors agreed to collect the towns’ payments for law enforcement coverage in April and October, after the towns receive tax revenue.
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