The St. Maries City Council approved a contract with Benewah County (together with the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office) to secure dispatch services for the St. Maries City Police Department.
The council voted unanimously to approve the contract (Randall Saunders was absent), which will go into effect Oct. 1. Randy Saunders, who was not present, did not vote on the matter.
The county will charge the city $17,000 per year per officer for dispatch services. It is the same price the county is charging the Plummer City Police Department.
The move comes after the city voted to terminate its contract with Benewah County for law enforcement coverage. Just earlier this month, the county commissioners had indicated they would discontinue dispatch servies for the city.
During discussions in regard to the former contract for law enforcement coverage, one of the items councilmen Ed Spooner and Steve Dorendorf spoke against was the amount the city was being charged for dispatch services. Under the agreement, the city was paying approximately $70,000 in dispatch services. Both men felt taxpayers were already paying for that service and shouldn’t be charged twice.
During Monday’s meeting, when Mayor Tom Carver asked if anyone had anything to say, Mr. Spooner replied with, ‘well, you know I do.’
Mr. Spooner said he appreciated the fact the mayor and city police chief Scott Castles worked to get the agreement in place. However, Mr. Spooner reiterated former thoughts on the matter: the people are already paying for the service through county taxes already.
Mr. Spooner said it was his hope to sit down with the sheriff after Paul Bunyan Days and talk about the matter. He added he would have also like to have seen the Benewah County Sheriff’s Offcie reach out and offer help with coverage during Paul Bunyan Days.
“I’m going to continue to research this,” Mr. Spooner said.
“The final say isn’t the sheriff it’s the county commissioners,” Mr. Dorendorf said in response to Mr. Spooner’s comments.
Mr. Dorendorf added after the meeting his job as a councilman is to do what is best for city residents. He added the city looked at using Kootenai County as well. However, this was the best price and only option at this time being for the residents.
Mr. Dorendorf said it would be his hope to renegotiate the cost at a later date, but the city needed something in place to give support to Mr. Castles as he works as the city’s police chief.
In a related matter, the city will look at contracting with four reserve police officers to help during the Paul Bunyan Days celebration.
Other business discussed included the approval of a lot merger for Chad and Lisa Brown for property they own behind Potlatch #1 Federal Credit Union. Mr. Brown said it is his hope to build an apartment complex on the lots and help provide some housing in the area.
The city rejected a bid to redo the Cormana Building roof. The city was anticipating the cost to be $100,000 and the bid came is at double the cost. The city will rebid the project later this fall in hopes for spring construction.