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Section A: General News


Stockdale factors peace officers into city budget




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Wilson County News
July 2, 2014 | 1,820 views | Post a comment

Can the city marshal’s office pay for itself with revenue from fines and fees?

The Stockdale City Council is considering this approach, as it works to refine a budget for the coming fiscal year.

As the city works to combat drug problems utilizing City Marshal Jim Stewart and Deputy Marshal David Rice, council members also are struggling with the costs of law enforcement.

During a June 24 council budget workshop, Rice reported that seven drug busts were made in Stockdale during the past two months. The most recent was during the Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, held June 19-21, in which an Austin-area person was arrested for possession of prescription drugs and marijuana, with the intent to sell to others. Rice said most of these arrests originate from traffic stops. He underlined that “pressure and presence” are key to combating drug problems in small towns. Being a visible presence is difficult, however, when the city marshal’s hours are limited. At present, neither the marshal nor deputy marshal is a full-time position, and the city also relies on law-enforcement support from the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

Funding for the city marshal’s office was scrutinized during the workshop.

Stockdale, population 1,442 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has three ways to draw additional funding -- sales tax, a franchise tax, or an increase in the ad valorem tax, or property tax.

The council wants to see if the marshal’s office can sustain itself. As revenue is generated, more patrol hours will be allowed.

When the city marshal or deputy marshal issues citations, the city receives the funds; if another agency or peace officer issues the citations, the funds go elsewhere.

“We don’t care who writes the ticket,” Wolff said. “We want to decrease the drug problem.”

Rice said Wilson County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been more visible, after recent discussions with that department. However, no contact has been made with Wilson County Pct. 4 Constable Galen Jansky, said City Manager Banks Akin, tasked with seeking additional support from the constable.

Expenses

Budget discussion veered from income from citations to costs for the marshal’s office. Akin must estimate the costs for the marshal’s office and municipal court for the budget.

Potential changes include an increase in the current marshal’s office income from $10,000 to $35,000 annually; an increase in the marshal’s office service hours; and an increase in municipal court expenses to $10,000 annually, due to added revenue generated.

To be factored into the budget is the NET SATA software provider, a statewide system with an up-front cost of $4,800, plus $5,000 in annual maintenance, approved at the June 3 meeting.

Other proposed expenses for the marshal’s office are a mounted camera and a Taser, with a total price tag of $2,000 to $2,500.

The city manager has yet to determine related fuel costs for this office.

The council also addressed other budgetary concerns. See below for more.
 

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