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Who’s responsible?

By Staff | Aug 16, 2012

Representatives from the city of Rugby and the county of Pierce came together on July 30 to try to hammer out a new agreement for the Law Enforcement Center (LEC). The LEC has been operating on the 1990 agreement for the past 22 years and much has changed in that time.

It was decided by the LEC committee at their January meeting that the LEC would continue to follow the 1990 agreement until a new agreement could be approved.

Chairman Arland Geisler started the July meeting with a graphic and other information on how LEC gets their revenue. In 2011, Pierce County taxpayers provided $133,763 through mill levy revenue. In addition the county provided $19,144 in other revenue for a total contribution of $141,908. The city contributed $38,767 through taxes and $6,046 in other revenue in 2011 along with $26,500 rent for a total of $71,313. This gives LEC $213,221in revenue from the city and county.

There was some discussion back and forth about the possibility of increasing the rent payment. This was followed by Commissioner Dave Migler moving to increase the city’s rent payment by $500/month or an additional $6,000/year. Councilman JIm Hoffert gave a second to the motion. All voted in favor.

Discussion took place about who pays prisoners boarding costs and medical expenses. By the 1990 agreement, any prisoners that the city police take into custody and who go through municipal court will have their boarding and medical costs paid for by the city of Rugby. The agreement also allows that for any prisoners that city police take into custody, but who go through the district court system, payment will be split equally by the city and the county (50/50). The city has proposed that the county pick up the full tab for prisoners that are taken into custody by city police but who are run through district court. This would be a change in the LEC agreement which would need to be amended to state that. The county, at first, was not too keen on paying the full amount citing their rural constituents having to pay (through taxes) for what started out as city prisoners.

At times the discussion was heated and caused much frustration on both sides of the issue. Terry Wentz talked about how the county and the city are one in solving problems. “We each help each other in Pierce County,” he said.

Police Chief John Rose was asked how other cities and counties manage the payment of prisoners in their custody.

“This isn’t the way other counties do it,” said Chief Rose. “It’s pretty common across the state that prisoners who go to municipal court are paid for by the city and prisoners that go to district court are paid for by the counties.”

When the meeting ended, the two groups may have been a little closer to an agreement. The committee has been working on updating the LEC agreement for the past two years.

The LEC committee includes representatives of city council and county commissioners, city and county law enforcement, and both city and county auditors as well as the Pierce County State’s Attorney. The committee meets twice a year in January and July. Those in attendance at Monday’s meeting were: Rugby Mayor Dave Cichos, Arland Geiszler (chairman), Terry Wentz, Jim Hoffert and City Auditor Dawn Hauck, Joe Bohl, Dave Migler, Duane Johnston and County Auditor Karin Fursather, Sheriff Matt Lunde, Rugby Police Chief John Rose, and Pierce County State’s Attorney Galen Mack.

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