The cost of annual law enforcement coverage for the towns of Garland and Roseboro would increase for the first time under a county proposal, which will be discussed further next month.
The proposal was offered as information by County Manager Ed Causey at the end of the Sampson Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday. The proposed cost increase is expected to be recommended for approval by Causey at the board’s May 2 meeting, when it will be mulled by commissioners. Garland and Roseboro officials will also be invited to give their feedback and share concerns.
Leadership from both towns have already been informed of the move to raise the contract amount for Sampson County Sheriff’s coverage.
In emails from Causey to both Roseboro Mayor Alice Butler and Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy, he noted previous discussions about the matter. In both cases, he mentioned that the county is “sympathetic” to the needs of the towns, but budget constraints and cost of services drove the proposal.
“Not everybody we work with is as happy with administration as we would like them to be,” Causey told the board Monday. “We are looking at costs and making sure we are providing services the way they should be. We felt like we needed to come back and look at the proposed cost and update them because of the pay plan and other things.”
The county has been in an ongoing budget reduction process in order to make the needed room to implement a pay plan over four years at an estimated cost of $3.7 million. That includes about $1.1 million and matching fringes for the current 2015-16 budget, as well as $1,193,391 in real permanent savings over the next four years, necessitating a reduction of $345,497 starting in the 2016-17 budget.
The town’s new contracts for law enforcement services would go into effect July 1, 2016. Under the annual contract, the sheriff must provide coverage to the town through emergency and non-emergency communications 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The cost of the contracts has not changed since they were signed over seven years ago, a move made when the town’s police departments were dissolved within months of each other amid a down economy that did not permit the towns to fiscally sustain them.
For Roseboro, the total projected cost is $263,273 for its two full-time deputies, a master deputy and one sergeant to perform law enforcement services for the town. However, the county is recommending that the contract be approved in the amount of $240,533, not to include the amortized costs of the vehicles and equipment. The original contract began Jan. 1, 2009, at an annual cost of $237,420.
In Garland, the total projected cost is $123,799 for its two full-time deputies, with county staff to recommend $112,799, again with amortized costs of the vehicle and body armor not included in the recommended amount. The original Garland contract began July 1, 2008 at an annual cost of $87,144.
Causey said that while he sympathizes with the towns’ budget concerns, the county’s fiscal responsibilities do not allow him to lower those proposed amounts any further.
“I further understand that there may have been some discussion of reducing (the proposed amounts) to some lesser amount,” Causey stated in his emails to Butler and Murphy. “We are certainly sympathetic to the needs of the municipalities. Unfortunately, the constraints that I am operating within regarding the county’s budget will not allow me to recommend a lesser amount.”
All similar contracts for municipalities for law enforcement services will be handled the same way, Causey noted.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.