Coffee City’s budget shows the town collected more than $1 million in court fines last year. That came from more than 5,100 citations officers wrote, the most in the state for a town its size according to the Texas Office of Court Administration.
A politician’s favorite revenue source: people from out of town/state, that can’t vote. Michigan has a large tourist industry, which is heavily taxed.
On the other end of the spectrum…
As Goodhue Police Chief Josh Smith struggled this summer to fill vacancies in his small department, he warned the town’s City Council that unless pay and benefits improved, finding new officers would never happen.
When nothing changed, Smith quit. So did his few remaining officers, leading the Minnesota town of 1,300 residents to shutter its police force in late August.
America is in the midst of a police officer shortage that many in law enforcement blame on the twofold morale hit of 2020 — the coronavirus pandemic and criticism of police that boiled over with the murder of George Floyd by a police officer. From Minnesota to Maine, Ohio to Texas, small towns unable to fill jobs are eliminating their police departments and turning over police work to their county sheriff, a neighboring town or state police.
Not new. Small towns have been giving up on having their own police departments for a while. The previous Michigan Gov, who was a “JC”, made one good suggestion during his two terms in office. He suggested cities or townships merge together to reduce administrative overhead. Not many willing takers for that suggestion however. What seems to instigate the closure of police departments is the prospect of a big tax increase to keep the department viable. Maybe people would be more interested in mergers if they were promised a tax cut?
This article is nine years old.
This is a predictable problem resulting from a fixation on “local control”, avoidance of “big city” government and a desire for low tax rates.
I live in an area with NINETY ONE municipalities within a county that in most other parts of the country might only have forty or fifty mid-sized cities. What do an extra FORTY ONE municipal administrations mean for the bottom line? Roughly speaking, that’s forty one extra mayors, forty one extra chiefs of police and 120 extra aldermen or city council members.
And what do these extra 202 government positions pay? Exactly squat, cuz remember, everyone hates big government and big salaries for politicians and bureaucrats. And many of these areas are so run down that their tax base from residential and commercial properties has eroded to a shadow of its former value over decades or has been traded away via abatements to chase redevelopment into big-box strip malls.
So what kinds of people are attracted to positions with SOME authority and control over money in situations most people normally have ZERO interest in paying attention to? Let’s just say you don’t find a lot of college grads with degrees in accounting, engineering or law working as mayor, city manager or chief of police in Backwater, USA.
And what do those people DO when they get in power? Lots of things. Collude with the owner of a towing company to impound vehicles at astronomically rates to extort anyone driving through down for hundreds of dollars on trumped up traffic violations. Sell promises of special tax abatements from the city to favored businesses. Farm out city business to their own businesses or those owned by buddies at exhorbitant prices without bids. Hire bad cops from all over the region who can’t get a job anywhere else and operate a ticket mill against local citizens. Influence local zoning debates to make outsized profits from personal real estate investments.
That’s exactly what you would expect if you take a given amount of needed public service work, spread it across THREE TIMES as many individual positions as are truly needed, pay those positions squat then pay ZERO attention to those that run for office or get hired into those low-pay, low-visibility positions with access to public money and control over law enforcement.
If you’re gonna go for public corruption and racketeering, there are few better vantage points from which to execute than INSIDE law enforcement or local government.
Exactly correct. When the “JC” Gov made his suggestion about merging to reduce administrative overhead, a coworker of mine, who lives in Sumpter Township said no way in the world would she have anything to do with VanBuren Township PD. She wanted her own police department.
Some years ago, the township I live in had a public meeting about changing the township into a city. One of the other proposals floated was to make a city along the main drag, where most of the businesses are, and separating it from the rump of the township, thus creating another gaggle of administrative overhead.
I offered that I really liked the Gov’s suggestion, and had they considered merging with Plymouth Township or VanBuren Township, to reduce overhead, without impacting services to the citizens (fully realizing that proposal threatened the jobs of the people I was talking to) They declined to discuss anything like that at all. They only wanted to discuss the city/township issue.
One question that keeps coming to mind as I watch the local evening news: why do Highland Park and Hamtramck exist? They are both enclaves entirely surrounded by Detroit. Highland Park, in particular, has had financial problems for years. Highland Park hooked up to the Detroit water system, because their own water plant was too dilapidated to use, and they did not have money for repairs. They don’t have money to pay Detroit for the water they use either. Maybe, if Highland Park merged with Detroit, and the HP administrative overhead was eliminated, the area might be able to pay it’s bills.
Happened here too. We live in a city government structure which is named “Town of Bridgewater”. How confusing is that???