The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution Thursday giving Mayor Landon Oxley permission to authorize the Holts Summit Police Department to patrol New Bloomfield. The aldermen gave a June 15 deadline for New Bloomfield to accept the agreement and for Oxley to sign.
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 and run through the remainder of the year. The coverage could be considered for continuation, but both cities would have to negotiate and pass a new agreement.
Martha Siegel, New Bloomfield's mayor pro tem, was at the meeting and said she is optimistic New Bloomfield will also pass the agreement.
The meeting was one of the most attended for Holts Summit this year, as residents from both cities came after some voiced concerns when the potential agreement was first made public two weeks ago. Several people spoke from their seats when the aldermen asked for input, but New Bloomfield resident Kerwin Kollmeier was the only to address the board directly.
New Bloomfield faced criticism from residents earlier this year for cuts to its part-time police force and the resignation of its police chief, leaving the city with no officers.
"We're very grateful to Holts Summit for, you know, being willing to help out," Kollmeier said. "We do have a lot of concerns as far as budgetary (problems) because for the past five, four months, we've been getting told numerous times by the City Council people that there is no budget — that there wasn't even a budget to pay for the insurance for a volunteer police chief."
Kollmeier expressed frustrations with actions and a lack of transparency by New Bloomfield's leadership, saying he was concerned the city would not be able to afford the agreement if it was continued at a higher cost next year.
"It is a temporary solution, but when the problem is we don't have the money, how is spending more money a temporary solution to help get more funds back up," Kollmeier said.
Oxley said residents should not be concerned over the cost of the agreement next year and the current deal only runs through the rest of this year. If both cities decide to continue the expanded coverage, it would involve additional negotiation and a new agreement.
"We're willing to provide a service for the citizens of New Bloomfield," Oxley said. "We're just doing a flat fee. I mean, if you want me to get right on open with it, it's just gonna help us pay for maintenance and fuel on our vehicles."
Oxley said the agreement should not take away from Holts Summit's ability to cover itself and Lake Mykee.
Holt Summit's aldermen passed the resolution, saying their only concern was if the residents of New Bloomfield wanted it. Several New Bloomfield residents said they were thankful for Holts Summit's willingness to help their city.
Also at the meeting, the aldermen officially passed an ordinance changing Holts Summit's zoning code. The changes apply additional requirements for new mobile homes in the city and prohibit new residential housing from being built in areas zoned for commercial use.
Since the ordinance was first discussed in November of last year, exceptions have been added to protect current mobile homes and land already bought in commercial zones
The meeting was Matt Harline's first official meeting as city administrator of Holts Summit and Rick Hess' last official meeting as city administrator.
Hess announced his retirement earlier this year, citing plans to move to a lake house and spend more time golfing, fishing and relaxing with his wife.