First comes the petition, then comes the public hearing.
In accordance with the Charter of the City of Gaylord, council members Wednesday set a public hearing for September 15th to discuss the future of Gaylord’s Police Department.
The City Council, by a 3-2 margin last month, passed a proposal to have the Sibley County Sheriff’s Department provide “on call” coverage. A four month trial period will begin September 1st. Under the agreement, Sibley County will provide “on call” coverage for approximately 12 hours per day.
Cooperating with the County is an attempt to save money because the City could eliminate a full-time police officer position. If cooperation with the County would become permanent, it is estimated the City could save $60,000 per year depending upon how many times the County is “called out.”
There had been little public resistance to the direction the City is taking with its police department until recently. A petition, dropped off at City Hall on August 12th, states: In July, 2010, the Gaylord City Council will be discussing the future of the cities police force. One of the options being discussed is the elimination of the City police force and contracting with the Sibley County Sheriff. If you are in favor of keeping the current City of Gaylord law enforcement as is, please join us in support by signing this petition which will be forwarded to the City Council for their consideration.
One-hundred-six people signed the petition which constitutes 10.6% of the registered voters in the City. That makes it a “sufficient” petition, McCann explained. According to the City Charter, a minimum of 10% of the total number of electors who cast their votes in the last preceding regular municipal election is needed for a “sufficient” petition. McCann reported that there were 1,000 voters in the last regular election held in 2008.
Council member Carl Wetzel read the petition at Wednesday’s meeting and, as mandated by City Charter, scheduled the public hearing.
According to City Attorney Don Lannoye, the City Council must submit to the petitioners’ wishes or the decision will be left to Gaylord voters in a special election. Lannoye reported that if the City Council does not submit to the petitioners’ wishes, it is too late to resolve the issue in the November general election. If necessary, Lannoye predicted a special election on this issue would take place in January or February.