By Pat Maurer
Clare County Sheriff John Wilson met with members of the Farwell Village Council and the Surrey Township Board October 13 to ask if the two would consider paying 55 ½ cents per mile for the additional road patrol coverage contracted with the Sheriff’s Department.
Although a decision was not made at the special joint meeting, Wilson outlined the need, citing increasing costs and a diminishing budget for the CCSD.
Based on 55 ½ cents per mile, the millage would cost each of the entities an additional $509.03 per month based on fuel and maintenance costs averaged over the past three months, according to figures compiled by Surrey Clerk Glenna Bradbury.
Wilson said the costs could be slightly less, since the deputy assigned to cover 40 hours of patrol in both the Village and township has been cutting the amount of driving to save costs.
The contract has been costing an average of $1,678.58 for each entity per month to cover costs for the deputy, but Wilson said those costs would be slightly less at $1,502.80 with the new deputy that began covering the area last month making slightly less and not classified as full-time. The savings would be approximately $175.78 per month which would cover a portion of the mileage costs.
Suggestions from the board members included cutting the hours of patrol to help cover additional costs.
Village President Steve Grim noted that the Village has a much smaller area to cover. “More is driven in the township than in the Village,” he said.
He went on, “We all know the plusses of having an officer in our area. We have to remember that part of the time is spent traveling from Harrison and back to Harrison – approximately three hours per week. Maybe we need to look at having a vehicle stored here. If we have a vehicle here it would mean more time and less miles.”
Wilson said, “The deputy would still have to come to Harrison for administrative meetings and routine maintenance. We already dedicate a car to you. It is only used in this area. We can try that, I’m open to it, but it would mean the deputy would have to use his personal car to get to Farwell and we would have to pay mileage for that.”
He went on, “I don’t want to lose this contract, but we have already been making a lot of cuts. I know everyone’s (budget) is tight. I’m tight too. I’m not trying to force anything; I just want to let you know where I’m at.”
Farwell Council member Deloris Knepper said, “The Village is paying one-half of the (road patrol) contract but we only have 24 percent of the population – and Village residents also pay township taxes.”
Grim said, “When we first had this contract it was ten hours per week. It gradually increased to 40 hours then we asked the township to share the costs. Cutting the hours (of coverage) would be shooting ourselves in the foot.”
He added, “When expenses go up, something has to give. If we are going to have the service, we have to find a way to make it work.”
Surrey Trustee Carol Dixon asked Wilson, “Are you definitely asking for 55 ½ cents per mile?
Wilson said, “No, that is a suggestion, but it would be great if you (the township and Village) could help out a little.”
Grim said, “If it is something you believe in, you pay the extra to keep the service.”
Wilson said, “How about if Kim and I come up with a number you can work with?”
Wilson agreed to come back to each of the boards with a proposal.