A potential agreement expanding Holts Summit's police coverage to include New Bloomfield has been met with mixed reactions and questions from residents of both cities after the Holts Summit Board of Alderman first discussed it earlier this month.
Holts Summit's board likely will vote on the resolution Thursday. If passed, the agreement would entail Holts Summit's police force patrolling New Bloomfield, responding to calls and enforcing city ordinances. The deal would cost New Bloomfield $20,000 for the remainder of the year and could then be considered for continuation.
Area residents took to social media to voice concerns over the price of the agreement and how it could affect the Holts Summit Police Department. New Bloomfield residents also stated frustrations over the city's handling of its police force involving cutting one part-time officer and the resignation of its police chief, leaving New Bloomfield with no officers.
Holts Summit Police Chief Kyle McIntyre said $20,000 is the amount New Bloomfield was able to afford and should be adequate to cover the service.
"The $20,000 means that the city of Holts Summit will not lose money doing this," McIntyre said. "They're not going to make any money either. It will just cover fuel and man hours. And it's kind of a trial basis to give us an idea more of what we're looking at in actual dollar figures."
McIntyre said he does not believe the agreement would involve a substantial increase in work. Holts Summit already covers Lake Mykee, he added, so officers will extend their route by a few minutes to patrol New Bloomfield. If there were any problem areas, the police force could also use targeted enforcement, McIntyre said.
"They're in a situation where they need some help and we have the ability to help them out with it," he said. "And I think it's the right thing to do."
Although Holts Summit would take primary responsibility for covering New Bloomfield, McIntyre said, the Callaway County Sheriff's Office would still play an active part in covering the city.
Martha Siegel — who is serving as New Bloomfield's mayor pro tem after Greg Rehagen resigned as mayor earlier this month — said the city was struggling to find solutions before working on the agreement with Holts Summit.
"We wanted to see what the possibilities were so we could fulfill what the citizens had been requesting," Siegel said. "And we didn't have much money, so we had been looking at the budget and trying to determine how much money there would be that we could go out there with — and it was minimal, compared to the services that we needed."
Siegel said New Bloomfield explored deals with the Callaway County Sheriff's Office and the Fulton Police Department, but neither ended up being possible options.
New Bloomfield is taking money from several spots to be able to afford the $20,000, Siegel added. She said the city has around $7,000 that had been set aside for a new police car, along with two old police cars to sell, and is saving money by not having to pay insurance or salaries for the police department.
The agreement will include enforcement of New Bloomfield's ordinances, and the city will keep the money from any fines. Cases still will also go through New Bloomfield's court system with Callaway County and not Holts Summit.
Siegel said she hopes residents are happy with the agreement, if passed, and would like to be able to continue it.
"It raises the policing level to a professional level that we haven't had," Siegel said. " We haven't been able to afford the full-time police and for them to be able to do everything that we really need. We're a small city, but we would like to be able to provide the same thing that the larger cities do."
Holts Summit City Administrator Rick Hess said because the city already has all the equipment and insurance for the police department, expanding coverage to New Bloomfield should not add a significant cost. He said there are no plans for new hours or to add more officers.
Hess said there could become extra costs, like if an officer is subpoenaed on his day off for a case in New Bloomfield, but they should not amount to anything unreasonable.
"I see it as a temporary solution until they can get things worked out," Hess said. "It may be that it works out well for both cities and they decide they would like to make that a permanent thing."