Electric City is considering creating its own police force and possibly a tax to fund it.
Mayor Jerry Sands said Tuesday that it will be on the agenda when his council meets July 8.
He stated that the city will consider a property tax levy issue, asking residents of Electric City to vote 35 cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation to fund the department. That would cost owners of a $200,000 house $70 a year.
Sands will ask his council to consider putting a levy before voters on the Aug. 5 primary election ballot.
Sands also stated that he has been in discussions with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office about providing law enforcement coverage. “I don’t see that happening, because of the distance,” he said.
The law enforcement issue came to bear after Grand Coulee presented a contract proposal asking for $209,982 for police coverage in 2015, or 279-percent of the current price of $79,000 a year.
The two cities have met once to talk about a new five-year contract.
“I don’t see Grand Coulee coming down enough on their proposal,” Sands stated.
Sands indicated that if the city develops its own police force, then citizens would get better coverage.
It already appeared that Grand Coulee was considering a revised proposal.
Mayor Chris Christopherson had stated at Grand Coulee’s last city council meeting that maybe some expenses were included in the first proposal that may not have been necessary. He huddled with his two council members who are negotiating the contract, Erin Nielsen and David Tylor, after the council meeting to discuss the city’s offer.
Sands had said earlier that the two cities need to get together before his council meets July 8, because his city is going to move forward to protect its interests.
The two cities have not set a second meeting. It may be a moot point, depending on action of the Electric City council on July 8. The current agreement for police services expires at the end of the year.
At the first meeting, Grand Coulee proposed a contract for $209,000 the first year with incremental increases in each of the four remaining years, bringing the cost on the final year to about $250,000.
Sands acknowledged that an increase was understandable, but reeled from the amount of the increase.
Grand Coulee’s total police budget for this year is $1,150,591.85. Of that amount, $536,168.85, is for a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contract. There’s $1,000 for reserve officers. So Grand Coulee will spend about $615,000 to put officers in neighborhoods this year, and just under 27 percent of their calls come from Electric City.
Council members who are the negotiating team from Electric City are John Nordine and Aaron Derr.