McGregor Council takes issue with police budget

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The Mar-Mac Public Safety Commission approved the Mar-Mac Police Department’s 2016-2017 fiscal year budget in early January, passing it on to the cities of Marquette and McGregor for approval. The proposed budget is $233,029.01, with Marquette covering 53 percent ($123,505.38) and McGregor 47 percent ($109,523.63).

While the Marquette Council approved the proposed budget with no discussion at its Jan. 19 meeting, the McGregor Council expressed some concerns at their meeting on Jan. 20. 

“I would like to see [the budget] cut now instead of getting a check back,” said councilman Joe Muehlbauer, referencing the return of unused funds to the cities at the end of the year. 

That “fluff” now, added city administrator Lynette Sander, means another organization is getting less money from the city in its budget.

Muehlbauer felt one area that could have been cut was gas, which is budgeted at $12,160, and based upon 4,000 gallons at $3.04 per gallon. 

“Gas prices fluctuate, but that’s almost double what it is now,” he said. “That could be a considerable savings for both communities.”

Muehlbauer said he would have preferred to see the proposed budget in October or November.

“But it’s done now, and we’re going to commit ourselves to this amount for this budget,” he said.

“Every year, we’re disappointed with it,” added councilwoman Rogeta Halvorson, “but it is what it is. We’ll work on it next year.”

As McGregor approaches splitting costs 50/50 with Marquette, the council said it would like to see the total budget around $223,000.

“It is down a little,” said mayor Harold Brooks, who is on the commission with councilwoman Janet Hallberg. “We did what was asked of us, to keep it at or below what it was. 

“We have a good department, with people accustomed to 24/7 service. We don’t want to see any of that changed. $109,000 is not going to get our own department.”

Halvorson, Hallberg, Jason Echard and Charlie Carroll voted to approve the budget, while Muehlbauer voted “no.” Carroll also requested information to compare Mar-Mac with other local police departments in towns of similar size.

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