City paid more before

Based on the last budget for the St. Maries Police Department, reinstating the department would cost taxpayers more than $400,000 annually.

The last fiscal year the department operated, 2015-2016, data shows that the city budgeted $437,000.00 and the department used $410,894.89. That total includes $81,486.92 for purchased services, which includes dispatch fees.

A summary of the SMPD budget for 2015-2016 and the BCSO budget 2019-2020 is published here for reference.

Following the dissolution of the department in 2016, the city contracted with the BCSO for $303,086.04 which also includes dispatch fees. By comparison, the SMPD spent 97 percent, or approximately $378,000 of its budget on salaries, benefits, and services.

It is possible that a reinstated SMPD would save on labor costs per officer. The former starting wage of the SMPD was $15 per hour. However, costs in other areas would likely consume those savings.

Hiring officers at $15 per hour could also prove challenging. According to Zip Recruiter, average hourly pay for police officers in Idaho is $23.39 per hour, slightly higher than the national average of $23.28. North Carolina is the lowest paying state on average at $17.09 per hour.

The key difference could be in response time and constant coverage. The BCSO contract provided 16 hours of city patrol, seven days per week, by three deputies. However, former-Sheriff Dave Resser previously said the BCSO never passed a call because it fell outside of those hours, though response times could be affected depending on deputy location in the county.

The city provided the required 180-day notice to the BCSO to cancel the contract, Dec. 15, 2020. What the city will do for enforcement is undecided.

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