P.C. Sheriff Pens Letter of Explanation for Budget Increase
July 26, 2023
People of Malta and Phillips County Residents
Greetings citizens of Malta and Phillips County. As you peruse the Malta City Council meeting minutes in the Phillips County News issue dated July 19, 2023, I'm sure you noticed, as I did, the displeasure stated by Council members in regards to the services they are receiving from the Phillips County Sheriff's Office. I'd like to address some of the issues that were brought up in the article. I believe in total transparency with the community and welcome anyone stopping by my office to review the information I'm presenting here.
The Phillips County Sheriff's Office is tasked with providing law enforcement services to the citizens of Phillips County. This includes the outlying communities of Whitewater, Loring, Saco, Dodson, Landusky, and Zortman. Although the population level is not very high, the size of this county is a little over 5200 square miles. This makes it rather difficult to be in every place at the same time.
A study conducted in 1989 when the City of Malta and County were considering consolidating law enforcement efforts indicated that there should be 9 officers and the cost sharing should be 43% City of Malta and 57% County. We currently have 6 officers and fully staffed have 7. We are also losing another officer to another law enforcement agency due to better pay.
When I addressed the County Commissioners and Malta City Council members with the proposed increase in funding, I presented them with statistics to support the increase. I must not have pointed out sufficiently the significance of the statistics as it pertained to the amount of efforts expended within the city limits of Malta and the rest of the County so I'd like to point those things out now. I will include the printouts that I supplied to the Council members and Commissioners as well.
In looking over the statistics for Calls for Service (this can be everything from a phone call about barking dogs, cows out on the highway, criminal activity, a coroner call, and everything that requires law enforcement efforts to be expended) from 2014 through 2023 the Phillips County Sheriff's Office has averaged 56.8% of the calls in the city limits of Malta. The actual percentages range from 50.42% to 62.75%. This means a majority of the law enforcement efforts for calls for service are within the city of Malta.
I had not included traffic stops in my presentation so I'll present them here. From January 1 through July 21, 2023, the Phillips County Sheriff's Office has conducted 362 traffic stops. The traffic stops within the city limits of Malta were 183. That would constitute roughly 50.5% of the traffic stops in the city of Malta. Since traffic stops were mentioned in the council meeting, I looked up the traffic stops that happened from the date of that meeting through today. We conducted a total of 72 traffic stops with 35 being in the city limits of Malta. That constitutes 48.6%.
By looking over the included expenditure reports, you can see things have gotten expensive since the 2008-2009 fiscal year. In that year, the Sheriff's Office spent $799,537.08 to provide law enforcement services to Phillips County. In the 2021-2022 fiscal year we spent $1,295,101.99. These numbers do not include the Stone Garden Grant program as that is a reimbursement program and does not directly cost the citizens of Phillips County any money.
In comparing the level of expenditures by the Sheriff's Office to the contracted amount received from the City of Malta in fiscal year 2021-2022 ($252,788.32), this amount constitutes a cost sharing amount of 19.52%. If we were to use the numbers as provided in the study that was conducted in 1989 (43%), the City of Malta would be paying $556,893.86.
This is how I look at the situation: you buy services at roughly 20% of what the total cost is and receive 50% of those services. The provider of those services asks you to increase the amount you pay to approximately 22.4% of the total cost and promises to keep the level of service you receive at 50%. I'd say that was a pretty good deal, wouldn't you?
I have the utmost respect for the members of the Malta City Council as well as the citizens of Malta and Phillips County. Although you may feel we fall short at times, we strive to do the best job we can under less than favorable conditions. With that being said, we currently have one opening for Deputy Sheriff. If you want to make your community a better place and are qualified, stop by the Sheriff's Office and pick up an application. Become part of the solution.