Sheriff contract comes into question
Hebron City Councilman Jay Bauer isn’t complaining about the Thayer County Sheriff’s work.
“They do a nice job, but why should we have to make up the difference?” Bauer said.
The sheriff’s contract, which was up for renewal at the June council meeting, requires Hebron to pay $141,552 of the $176,352 contract budget that fuels the sheriff’s office to monitor the county.
Only three towns, Bruning, Davenport and Deshler, pay into the contract for a total of $34,800.
Thayer County Sheriff David Lee said the remaining towns opt out.
“Quite honestly, it wouldn’t be fiscally sound. They call for us when they need us, but they’re not going to pay us to sit there,” Lee said.
But Bauer doesn’t think Hebronshould pay 80 percent of the sheriff’s contract budget. He voted no on the renewal.
Lee said Hebron receives 16 hours of patrol time per day. As the county population has dwindled, the need for deputies in the smaller towns decreased.
He said, frankly, it’s tough to hire someone and tell them they have to live in a small town.
Former Mayor Randy Hergott said the same scenario takes place every year.
“It’s always discussed. I never thought what they were charging was outlandish. I always felt like we were getting the bulk of service and a deal because we had a bulk of the businesses here,” Hergott said.
In neighboring counties, law enforcement is handled differently because of the circumstances.
Jefferson County does not contract to villages.
“Basically, we just take care of state statutes,” Sheriff Nels Sorensen said.
Sorensen said the cities and villages are in control of enforcing ordinances and Fairbury has its own police force.
Since 2005, the City of Geneva has contracted with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, paying $152,514 until Oct. 1 and $157,089.48 after, as part of an interlocal agreement between the city and the county.
The agreement provides for an increase in the second year of the contract. Two officers patrol Geneva, which had 2,217 residents as of the 2010 census, 80 hours per week.
Exeter and Fairmont have what they call village marshalls, but the Fillmore sheriff continues to patrol and provide service.
“Continual patrol coverage is a no-brainer,” Lee said.