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By A.B. Sidibe
Special to the Citizen
INGLIS — The town commission has cemented what was set into motion in Marchwhen citizens in this southern Levy County hamlet voted to scrap their police and fire services and hand the work to the county.
In a special meeting on Thursday, the Inglis Town Commission voted 3-2 to award the sheriff’s office a law enforcement contract that runs through 2017.
Commissioners Michael White, Sally Price and Ann Morin voted for the contract while Drinda Merritt and Sherry Ely voted against the measure.
The contract calls for the provision of three deputies for the town and one part-time supervisory deputy.
The deal also stipulates the following, among other things:
• The sheriff’s office cannot, for financial reasons, provide at least a deputy 24 hours in the town, which therefore means law enforcement coverage is not going to be 24 hours a day, seven days in the town.
• The sheriff’s office will make all its services available to the town including K9, traffic enforcement and Citizens on Patrol.
• Inglis agrees to pay the following sums: 2013-14 — $276,000; 2014-15 — $276,000; 2015-16 — $281,520, and 2016-17 — $287,150.40. The sheriff’s office also reserves the right to make requests for financial adjustments should the need arise. If the parties can’t agree, the agreement will be terminated.
• The sheriff’s office is responsible for all hiring.
• Three vehicles, which now belong to the Inglis Police Department, will be inherited by the LCSO.
Efforts to disband the police services in the town had been ongoing for several years but it culminated last March when advocates were elected to a majority of the commission seats and the measure to do away with the department passed overwhelmingly.
The contract takes effect Oct. 1.
Sheriff’s officials had taken a lukewarm posture toward those seeking to disband the police department mainly because of financial considerations and expectations.
Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum has insisted that his agency would not accept any contract for fewer than three years and could not see the feasibility of around-the-clock services.
McCallum said right after the election that the cost for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage would require five full-time deputy positions be added to his office.
“The first year would be $396,420.50. That’s because there would be some startup costs,” he said.
“The second would go down some to $349,387, and the third would be $361,511. What this does not include is staffing the office in Inglis,” McCallum said. “For that you would be adding about $43,000 to each of those years’ figures. That would cover staffing their building and paying the utilities and those sorts of things”
He said the town’s police officers are not guaranteed carte blanche employment with the county.
Reporter A.B. Sidibe at 352-564-2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.