Farwell cancels road patrol contract

The Clare County Sheriff’s Department is facing another cut in the budget this year with the news that Farwell Village has cancelled their contract for additional road patrol.

The Village and Surrey Township have shared a full-time road patrol officer for several years. Originally, about 13 years ago, the Village and the Sheriff’s Department had set up the contract for extra patrol in the Village. The Township was added later.

CCSD Lt. Ed Williams was at the regular Village meeting Monday to ask why the contract was terminated. “How can we do our job better?” Williams asked Councilmembers.

Village Vice President Vicky Gunden said, “It was a budget issue. We’ve had to cut a lot of things, not just road patrol. We need to find a way to better spend those dollars. We felt we were getting very little actual coverage for our money. Part of the five daily hours were travel and report time.”

She continued, “It wasn’t a decision we made lightly. We also cut funding for the Little League this year.”

The Village Council approved the termination of the contract by a 5-0 vote at their January 23 Committee of the Whole meeting and officially approved that action 5-0 at the January 30 Special Budget Meeting. Village President Steve Grim and Council member Barb Roe are out of State.

Village Attorney Jaynie Hoerauf was asked to draft a letter to notify the Sheriff’s Department. The letter said the contract would expire on March 2.

Sheriff John Wilson said he was disappointed by the Village decision. “The Village has the right to cancel with a month’s notice and that is what they chose to do.” He said. “We will still respond to the Village for incidents that occur there, they just won’t have the fast response time that was there when the Deputy was working that area.  I’m responsible for the public’s security in the county whether they have a dedicated Deputy or not.”

Village Clerk/Treasurer Janet Conlay said the cost of the contract has been a budget concern for some time. She said about $24,000 was budgeted for the service annually, and the cost monthly ranged from $1,600 to $1,800 including benefits. “It is nothing personal about the Sheriff’s Department,” She said. “The patrol time we got was just not equal to the price charged, plus they were asking for an increase to cover mileage.” Last fall the Sheriff had asked both the Village and Surrey Township to consider adding a mileage fee to their contracts to cover increasing fuel costs and maintenance. Neither the township nor the Village approved any additional funds for the road patrol.

Wilson said that Deputy Kevin Roland, who filled the position, would be cut back to half time and his benefits would be cut.

In another matter, the Village also tentatively approved the 2012-13 budget at Monday’s meeting and set February 27, 6 p.m. as the Public Hearing and adoption of the budget for next year.

The General Fund expenses were set at $322,859.00 and expenses totaled at $322,897.00. The ending fund balance was set at $585,728.00.

Major Streets expenses listed at $130,322.00 with revenues at $46.00 higher and a fund balance of $141,108.

Local Streets expenses were budgeted at $48,075.00 with revenues $575.00 higher and a fund balance of $113,063.00.

The Village Sewer fund listed an expense total of $153,531.00 and revenues of $172,100 with an ending fund balance of $331,939.00

Finally the Water Fund expenses were budgeted at $131,087.00 and revenues were listed at $1.00 more with an ending fund balance of $413,213.00.

The new budget will include $25,000 for new equipment to update the 1990 John Deere 755 tractor, and $11,000 for a sprinkler system for the Village Park. Equipment repairs and maintenance added $2,000 to the budget and gas and oil costs added another $2,000. Another $3,000 was added for tree removal; and a $2.00 per hour raise for the Clerk/Treasurer was changed to .50 per hour and approved unanimously, retroactive to January 12.

Other business at the Village Council meeting Monday included:

*Approval of a motion to extend the agreement with AT&T for three years.

*Tabling a motion to change the Village Tax late penalty from a flat 3 percent to a graduated rate of 1 percent from September 16 to 30th and 1 percent additional each month thereafter through February.

*Discussed an ISP Management WI-FI proposal for the Village.

*Discussed a $1.00 weekly solid waste pickup fee for residents.

*Discussed eliminating spring and fall cleanup and adding a large item pickup weekly.

*Approved payment of January bills totaling $28,844.45.