Rush City Considering Reducing Patrol Hours
The cost of service from the Chisago County Sheriff’s department increased nearly $8-per-hour since 2006 and now it is forcing Rush City to consider how many patrol hours they can afford to pay.
The city council discussed the issue during Monday’s city council meeting. This year, the cost of contracting with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office is $48.37 an hour. Rush City averages 120 hours of service per week, meaning they would pay $300,000 for patrols in 2010. However, the city has only $261,000 in its budget for police services. Making their challenge even more difficult is Governor Tim Pawlenty’s announcement last week that he plans to slash Local Government Aid to help balance the states $1.2 billion deficit. Under Pawlenty’s proposal, Rush City would lose $91,000, according to City Administrator Amy Mell.
“I’m just really concerned,” said Mell. “With already being cut the $80,000 and then if we have an additional $90,000, we are going to have to look at absolutely everything.”
Mell said that the cost of contracting with the county increased each year since 2006.
“This has been the lowest jump [in cost] since ’06, this year it’s 4.8-percent,” she said. “Otherwise its been five-percent, 6.5-percent, and five-percent, so it’s getting to be quite a high number.”
Rush City’s contract with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Department includes a corporal and two full time deputies. Council member Jamie Amundson questioned if it would benefit the city to hire their own police department. Mell said hiring a city police department would provide similar coverage to what the Sheriff’s office currently provides, but said the city would have to invest in all new equipment, squad cars, training, and insurance.
“From working here from when we did have our own police department and working here now, and this is just me, I honestly feel that we have increased coverage,” said Mell. “I think we actually have more officers in town.”
Mell said to the city needs to cut patrol hours by 15-per week to get within the budgeted amount. City attorney Peter Grunderhoefer said cities like Stacy and Harris contract for about 20-hours-per week.
The council agreed not to make any decisions regarding hour-cuts until the budget is finalized in St. Paul.
“I don’t think we can make any commitments to this until we know exactly what we are going to get cut,” said Amundson. “We already have to go back to the drawing board and take a look at this because we are $40,000 in the hole.”