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Hancock to keep full-time police officer

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The city of Hancock will continue to have a full-time police officer. That was the decision made by the city council Monday night after voting to discontinue discussion with the county sheriff’s office about police coverage.

The city received an estimate of the cost for county police coverage last week and it was distributed to council members in their packets last Friday. Several community members were also present at the meeting to comment on and listen to the discussion about the police coverage. The costs for county police coverage were available to the public in a hand-out and are printed in the charts below. Also included was the current cost for the city to have a full-time police officer.

City Attorney Neil Simonson commented to the council members that they should take into consideration the liability issues of the city possibly incurring liability for things the county does in regard to the police coverage. He also added some personal thoughts about the possible change.

“You are dealing with a human being here who has done a good job for the city,” Simonson said. “You need to treat that person fairly. If the city contracts with the county, you lose some control over what the county does within the city.”

Former mayor and current private citizen Jim Swenson, read a list of comments from the floor. He stated that he was there to support Police Chief Matt Flogstad. He added that Flogstad has brought respect and integrity to the job that he loves. He has saved the city a large sum of money by implementing the safety program. He has also earned the respect of the school children who often stop to talk to him. He works well with the kids, with fellow employees and with other law enforcement offices. “We have a lot to lose by the $40,000 saved,” concluded Swenson.

Mayor Bruce Malo then asked council members for discussion on the proposal from the county.

“I would like to see it stop,” said councilman Dennis Schroeder. “It is too much money.” Councilman Jeff Kisgen stated that he agreed with Schroeder.

Malo added that the numbers received from the county were actually more than when the city had previously looked into county police protection. He thought the new sheriff would see it somewhat different. However, he realized that for the county to provide the protection, they would also have to add another employee.

The councilmen then voted to discontinue pursuing county police protection and keep Flogstad on as hired. Flogstad asked council if anything would change with his job and basically wanted to know if he should be looking for another job.

Flogstad was told that there has been no other discussion among council members about the position. Malo added that the reason they had looked into this in the first place was to try to save the city money and use the savings on street repairs and other such expenses.

In other personnel matters the council heard reports from the water/sewer department, maintenance director and city clerk/treasurer.

Ryan Mogard told the council members that he had discharged the pond and noticed some water leakage around the outlet. He will be getting a company in to look at this.

John Jepma reported that the clean-up days went good, streets have been swept, hydrants are being flushed and the water turned on at West Side Park. He asked permission to go to four 10 hour days for the summer.

It was decided to have the personnel committee look into this and have a special meeting on special meeting on Monday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m. to approve a personnel policy.

Andrea Swenson asked council for permission to compile a comprehensive plan that will address future street work, vehicle replacement and building repairs. The city council will need to prioritize some of the work that needs to be done in order to keep up with the needs. It was suggested to apply a franchise fee to utility companies to help pay for some of the street improvement. It was noted that while the franchise fee would bring in more money for the city, the cost is simply passed on to the taxpayers on their utility bills.

Swenson also informed the council members that they need to be better about observing the open meeting law. “Decisions should not be made outside of the meetings,” Swenson stated. “If a council member has an issue, for example with an employee, they should go to the committee in charge of this, and the committee should bring it before the council.”

Other action

* The city council approved a new Golf Cart Ordinance as per defined in the state statutes. This will mean that golf cart operators will need to possess a valid drivers license and the carts need to have a slow-moving vehicle sign, rear view mirror and lights.

* The council members approved adding gravel to the roads in front of the locker plant and TLC and will have chloride applied to the road past Buddies.

* It was decided that if a resident received their water/sewer bill by email and pay by use of the web site the user fee will be waived. If they received the bill by postcard and pay on line the resident will have to pay the fee. More information will be mailed to the public about this service.