Nowthen says ‘no’ to sheriff’s contract pitch
by Kelly Johnson
Nowthen will have no formal police coverage beginning Jan. 1.
That’s because a motion to increase the city’s 2012 levy to include the sheriff’s contract failed on a 2-3 vote, with Mayor Bill Schulz and Councilmember Jeff Pilon voting in favor and councilmembers Orval Leistico, Laurie Olmon and Harlan Meyer voting against.
The council last week voted to approve the city’s 2012 budget and levy without including any money for a contract with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
The council’s action means that Anoka County Sheriff’s Office deputies will respond to emergency only calls in the city. Non-emergency calls should be directed to Nowthen City Hall.
The sheriff’s office has provided police coverage in the city at no additional cost since its incorporation in 2008, just as it was when the community was Burns Township.
Without approval of a law enforcement contract, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart said at a Nov. 3 open house that the sheriff’s office patrols in the city will be limited to emergency calls and response times would increase.
“There would be a significant change in services and a change in resources,” Stuart said.
Stuart said Nov. 3 that Nowthen’s “neighboring communities have expressed concerns” about why they are paying for police coverage and Nowthen isn’t.
Information provided by Stuart indicated that in 2010 there were 1,301 calls for service in Nowthen, which are approximately 3.5 calls per day. This does not include traffic stops and arrests.
Nowthen’s 2012 property tax levy will total $1,093,005, a 1.61 percent increase from the $1,075,733 levied in 2011.
If the council had approved the sheriff’s contract at $253,000, the city’s levy would have totaled $1,346,005. A contract for service at $105,511 would have brought the total property tax levy to $1,198,516.
Stuart provided the city with two options for police coverage in 2012 and 2013. These options were presented at an open house Nov. 3 at Nowthen Alliance Church.
Option A would begin in January 2012 with eight hours of dedicated coverage in Nowthen, as well as 24 hours of support from the sheriff’s office. This option would include a new squad car in 2012.
The cost in 2012 would be $253,392.
In 2013, the contract cost would decrease to $203,216 because the squad car has already been purchased. The city will also receive police state aid money to help defray law enforcement costs.
Nowthen’s tax rate would increase from the current 19.201 percent to 25 percent in 2012, which means residential property taxes would increase by the following amounts:
•A home valued at $200,000 will see a $116 annual increase.
•A home valued at $250,000 will see a $144.97 annual increase.
•A home valued at $300,000 will see a $173.97 annual increase.
•A home valued at $350,000 will see a $202.96 annual increase.
•A home valued at $400,000 will see a $232 annual increase.
Option B would begin July 1, 2012, and continue through Dec. 31, 2013.
It would also include the same amount of coverage as included in Option A. A used squad car would be included in the first six months of the contract.
Costs for 2012 would be $105,511.
That increases to $248,604 in 2013 due to the need to purchase a squad car and equipment for that vehicle.
Information provided to the City Council in August indicated that with Option B, the city’s tax rate would increase from 19.02 percent to 22 percent in 2012.
A home valued at $200,000 would pay an additional $55.98 in city taxes to pay for law enforcement in the first year of the contract.
Other properties include:
•A home valued at $250,000 would pay an additional $69.97.
•A home valued at $300,000 would pay an additional $83.97.
•A home valued at $350,000 would pay an additional $97.96.
•A home valued at $400,000 would pay an additional $111.96.
•A home valued at $450,000 would pay an additional $125.95.
In the second year, property taxes will increase to the amount of increases presented in Option A.
In addition to making a decision on the sheriff’s contract, Nowthen’s 2012 budget calls for $95,650 to go into the general fund, which is on pace with the 2011 budget.
There is a planned reduction in professional services, from $14,980 in 2011 to $11,055 in 2012. The budget for legal services, however, is set to increase in 2012, from $20,000 budgeted in 2011 to $35,000.
The city’s planning and zoning budget is also set to increase in the coming year, from $40,000 budgeted in 2011 to $53,900 in 2012.
Nowthen’s building department expenditures are set to decrease from $94,198 budgeted in 2011 to $46,250 in 2012.
The city’s parks budget is also being reduced from $51,600 in 2011 to $43,200 in 2012.
Nowthen’s paved streets budget is increasing in the coming year, from $16,000 budgeted in 2011 to $49,000 in the 2012 budget.
In 2012, the city will add a bond to pay for a grader, budgeted at $29,593.19.
The city’s fire department budget will see a decrease in the coming year, from $94,936 in 2011 to $80,374.
In all, the city plans to spend $1,236,318.01 in 2012, while anticipating bringing in $143,313 in other revenue.