The Foley city council voted unanimously last week to hire a private security firm to patrol its streets rather than renewing the $280,000 contract with the Benton County Sheriff’s office. The city of 2,600 could save more than $80,000 from the move. Currently the city contracts with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office for patrol services by three deputies.
The private contractors from General Security Services will carry firearms and make citizens arrests, though they will not be able to make traffic arrests or investigate crimes. The sheriff’s department will still respond to 911 calls, though they warned residents would see less patrols and longer response times.
Given the current economic challenges facing many local governments, cities are being forced to consider creative solutions in meeting budget requirements. Officials from the City of Foley, however, are hoping their latest response to the city’s budget crunch could be explored by other cities around the state.
“It’s going to be a trial and we’ll see how it goes,” Foley council member Dean Weber told MPR. “If it goes well, I imagine there’ll be a lot of other cities looking at it.”
The City of Foley is expecting to increase the budget 2012 another 3.6 percent from the 2011 budget. Last year, the city budgeted $2,253,982 million in total expenditures for 2011, an 8.7 percent increase from the 2010 revised budget.