Belle aldermen negotiate renewal of police services, contract increase

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 1/20/22

BELLE — Belle aldermen on Jan. 13 discussed terms for a new one-year police services contract with Maries County Sheriff’s Department in the amount of $185,000, which will be voted on at …

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Belle aldermen negotiate renewal of police services, contract increase

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BELLE — Belle aldermen on Jan. 13 discussed terms for a new one-year police services contract with Maries County Sheriff’s Department in the amount of $185,000, which will be voted on at the February meeting.

The sheriff’s department is asking for a $30,000 price increase to renew the contract.

Belle Mayor Josh Seaver said on Monday there are several reasons for the price increase.

“They are giving raises on their side, so some will go towards that,” he said. “Fuel and maintenance cost as well.”

Feb. 1 marks two years since the contract was implemented. During original discussions in 2019, Sheriff Chris Heitman had told the city that the first contract needed to be at least two years of service to allow them to pay for more equipment. After the first two years, they could sign the contract on a yearly basis.

The city of Belle paid $155,558 annually for services between 2020-21 fiscal years.

During the two-hour meeting on Jan. 13, Seaver, aldermen, and Maries County Sheriff’s Office Belle Division’s Major Scott John discussed terms to extend the city’s police contract by another year.

Seaver said on Monday morning that the sheriff’s offer seemed fair.

“We had a few questions,” Seaver said. “We asked if they would help with nuisance violations and Scott John said he would talk to the sheriff about it.”

He said if the sheriff’s department is not interested in working the nuisance, he needs to know how far he can take the consequences and if he can write citizens tickets for violations.

“I think I’m going to keep doing it if I can write citations,” Seaver said.

He added that the city’s new county court clerk, Victoria Akins, seems to be handling her job well.

“She may help do more paperwork for me,” he said. “It’s a big time-suck, and right now the sheriff doesn’t want to be involved.”

Seaver said aldermen also asked John about how many coverage hours the city has been receiving per day.

“Right now we are at 20 hours a day,” Seaver said. “Scott said they are finally fully staffed. Right now an officer comes into town around 8 a.m. and we asked them about shuffling hours around to catch the 7 a.m. traffic.”

Officials also asked John to show up at the monthly meetings. John explained that with the department being short-staffed it hasn’t been possible, but that they would try harder in the future to attend as they can finally be considered fully staffed.

“Otherwise, we didn’t change anything but the asking price,” Seaver said. “And the contract will be year-to-year from now on. We are going to make changes to the contract and get it back to them.”

Aldermen were given a financial report that showed how much police services have cost the county in 2020 and 2021, along with an estimate for 2022.

According to the statement, police services in 2020 cost the county $160,558 and in 2021 it cost $175,116. They also brought in $9,351 in court revenue in 2020 and $13,665 in court revenue in 2021.

During that time the county was receiving payment of $155,558 along with half of the court revenue.

The sheriff’s department estimates costs will be about $190,124 with $15,000 in court revenue in the 2022 service year.

Aldermen closed the meeting without voting to approve the contract.

Seaver said Monday that they would vote Feb. 8 to approve the new contract with any revisions that were discussed.

Discussion on the Maries County Police Services renewal came just two days after the city meeting where aldermen voted 4-0 to sign a resolution to eventually rebuild the Belle Police Department.

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