ENM police targeted for possible budget cut

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The Elko New Market City Council swore in its newest part-time police officer at its Thursday, Feb. 12 meeting, the same night the council discussed whether it could save costs by eliminating the department.

Council member Bob Hanna had asked for information concerning contracting with the Scott County Sheriff's office for police services. City administration presented cost figures for that proposal, as well as for reducing the level of police services in the community.

Currently Elko New Market has two full-time officers, its police chief and a sergeant, and six part-time officers. Two years ago the city decided to expand its police department to full time due to an increased demand for service.

At the February 12 meeting, City Administrator Tom Terry presented information on contracting with Scott County. Under the proposal, the annual cost per deputy would be $138,130 or $66.41 per hour on an average of 40 hours per week with an estimated 2,080 working hours per year. Additional hours for extra patrol or special events would be $75 per hour.

Total budget for the police department in 2009, including operating and capital expenses, is $344,806. Using the same calculations for work hours as the sheriff's office that equals $61.73 an hour. The budget provides for 6,230 hours.

Terry noted the sheriff's office contract does not include other non-patrol services provided by the police department. These include emergency management, school programs, the Safe & Sober program, operation Ident-a-Child and participation in community events like National Night Out, Fire and Rescue Days and the city's Halloween party.

In an interview, Hanna said that 30 percent of the city's budget is for police. He said the sheriff's office would still patrol the city beyond the contracted hours. He explained that by contracting with the sheriff's office the city would save a little more than $200,000 and over the next four years that would be close to $1 million in savings.

He has received phone calls from residents who want to know the numbers.

After they see the numbers and see what the city can save they're for it

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