Let’s look at both sides of ‘free service’
As we move into this new month, a looming Aug. 10 deadline nears when the county commissioners plan to discontinue dispatch service to the city of Imperial police and utilities departments if the city doesn’t agree to pay $35,000 a year for that service.
As most of you know, city and county officials have been wrangling over this issue since January, and even back two years earlier in a related area as a difference of opinion arose on who is to pay a $436 medical clearance bill for an Imperial police-arrested prisoner taken to the Chase County Jail.
Now it’s come down to a deadline nine days away.
This newspaper has carried numerous stories on the issue, so I went back and reread them just to get a feel on how things have progressed on the issue of charging for dispatch service.
I also listened to the tape of the county commissioners’ Jan. 22, 2019 meeting when Sheriff Kevin Mueller first suggested publicly that a contract on jail services between the city and county might be a good idea as the court case on the unpaid $436 medical bill was heading to the Nebraska Supreme Court.
At that meeting, I asked if the county was going to charge fees as part of the contract, and the sheriff said his main concern then was getting a contract in place for jail services, and that any fees would be up to the commissioners.
By the time May rolled around, the county commissioners included a $40,000 fee for dispatch service in the jail contract forwarded to the city. They have since lowered the fee to $35,000 a year. The city has offered $10,000 a year, and hasn’t moved off that figure.
So, there’s a little history.
A comment from one commissioner at their June 25 meeting bears repeating.
Commissioner Chuck Vette of Wauneta said, “Ten thousand dollars is an embarrassment for what the county puts in,” referring to the city’s offer.
When asked at a May 20 city council meeting why the county hadn’t charged the city for dispatch for decades before now, Commissioner Jacci Brown responded, “You guys got a good deal.”
Well, maybe the city has received a “good deal.” But I think the commissioners also need to realize some of their other citizens (those outside the city limits) also receive a “good deal,”—many times over—thanks to the city.
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