Grundy, Coal City to cooperate on police study
By Sarwat S. Ahmad For The Herald-News March 19, 2012 8:28AM
Updated: April 21, 2012 8:05AM
MORRIS — Grundy County has agreed to help Coal City in its attempt to determine ways to lower its law enforcement costs.
Board members recently voted unanimously to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the county, Coal City and Grundy County Sheriff Terry Marketti to conduct a feasibility study in order to outline what options are available for the village in using the sheriff’s services while decreasing the costs of running its own police department.
The cost of the study will be taken on by the village, Coal City Mayor Neal Nelson told the board before the vote. The agreement only ensures that both the county and the sheriff’s department will cooperate fully during the process of the study, which will be undertaken by a management firm that will be hired by Coal City.
Nelson told the board that the purpose of the study is to outline the number of options the village has to minimize police costs in the face of declining property tax revenues. These options may include consolidating both Coal City’s and the sheriff’s patrol officers, or having the county take over the city’s law enforcement needs.
The village is down to one officer on patrol 24 hours a day when officers are sick or on leave, but the village would like to see at least two officers out at all times, Nelson said.
Marketti has yet to sign the agreement but he is willing to cooperate in any manner as long as the public is on board, he said in an interview.
Both Nelson and Village Administrator Matt Fritz have indicated that the issue will most likely be brought to the public for a vote if the results of the study deem any changes in the police force to be necessary.
In other news, Grundy County agreed to waive this year’s $14,000 service fee the Grundy County Housing Authority is required to pay the county in lieu of property taxes. This is a one-time waiver requested by Brent Newman, CEO of the housing authority.
Newman cited a 28 percent reduction in federal funding from 2009 to 2011. He also told the board that the request was only for the one time because the authority has also decreased costs in the last year by reducing contributions to retirement benefits and reducing salaries.