City, county at odds on LEC rent
The City of Rugby paying Pierce County rent was a topic of contention Monday evening in the first meeting of the joint Law Enforcement Center board since July 2015.
Usually held on the last Mondays in both January and July, the board did not meet in 2016.
Rugby Ward 1 councilman and board member Neil Lotvedt said he sees the $26,500 the city currently pays for dispatch costs as “double taxation” for Rugby residents, and that residents also pay money used for weed control and snow removal.
“We contribute in other ways than just this,” Lotvedt said.
Pierce County State’s Attorney Galen Mack asked how much then should the city contribute.
Lotvedt said the county could nix rent and put in place a “reasonable” 10-mill levy for the LEC. County Auditor-Treasurer Karin Fursather said the county can’t put 10 mills into it and that non-capital construction levies the counties once had for the LEC disappeared with the passage of S.B. 2144 in 2015.
Mack said non-Rugby residents would be paying as well if a 10-mill levy were in place.
“There are other things we pay for,” Lotvedt said. “We’ve [kept] fighting this for six years.”
“Not ‘we,’ you,” said County Commission Chairman and board member Dave Migler to Lotvedt.
Lotvedt said the county asked for rent to which Mack said that every year the county asked the city to consider paying rent or increasing payments toward dispatch costs and the “increase has been $0, $0, $0.”
“We’re double taxed,” said Lotvedt.
“That’s not accurate,” Mack said.
“Our law enforcement costs have gone up,” Lotvedt said, indicating law enforcement as one of the largest expenses in the City of Rugby’s budget.
“[Then] you should understand where we’re coming from,” said Migler.
Lotvedt said he had been in discussions with city residents.
“We all have to be right to the taxpayers,” Lotvedt said.
Migler said that if the city doesn’t want to pay rent, it should look for a new place to house the Rugby Police Department.
“I visit with people too, they’re city people and they can’t believe you won’t pay rent,” Migler said.
Rugby Ward 4 Councilman and 2016 board chairman Chuck Longie asked if there was an opportunity for city representatives to take rent figure discussions back to the city council.
“It’s up to you,” said county commissioner and board member Mike Brossart, “[but] we’re set on this.”
“You need the money?” said Rugby Ward 3 Councilman and board member Tim Bartsch, Sr. “[We’ve] just wasted an hour and a half discussing what we [the city] have no choice in.”
No further action was taken on the matter.
In other action, the board elected officers, including Migler and Brossart as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively.
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