Falls City rejects law enforcement levy

There will be no local police protection in Falls City after July 1.

FALLS CITY -- There will be no local police protection in Falls City after July 1.

Polk County sheriff's deputies will continue to serve the community, but it will get the same attention as Buell, Pedee and other unincorporated parts of the county.

Falls City voters rejected a levy May 15 to provide local law enforcement.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office assigns two deputies to Falls City, but the city's contract with the Polk County Sheriff's Office expires in July.

The levy was shot down 169 to 106. Polk County Clerk Linda Dawson said 279 of Falls City's 544 voters cast ballots in the election.

Voters were asked to spend $336,916 over the next four years so that city officials could contract for 56 hours for law enforcement services either with the sheriff's office or another law enforcement agency.

The county provides a deputy and relief deputy at a local substation.

Residents rejected a similar request last November.

"The city council elected to put this law enforcement levy on the May 15 ballot because it failed by such a few votes during the last effort," City Administrator Rick Hohnbaum said.

The city gets the message, Hohnbaum said.

"The council has discussed potential options, but has heard clearly the voters rejection of the financial levy to fund law enforcement services."

Hohnbaum said local residents won't be saving any money by rejecting the levy.

"Citizens will not see a decrease in the tax bills next year with the failure of this levy since the levy currently providing law enforcement services expired last June," he said.

"The current law enforcement services is being provided from grants and savings that the city was able to do."

Sheriff Bob Wolfe said he is committed to enforcing the law in Polk County and will do his best to cover Falls City, even without the two deputies.

"Sheriff Wolfe and his staff have been very supportive during the recent law enforcement discussions and planning even though the Falls City Council very intentionally made no commitment as to who or what law enforcement agencies would be employed if the levy passed," Hohnbaum said.

City officials cannot provide law enforcement out of the current budget, he added.

"The City of Falls City is struggling to provide the level of services desired by the citizens in light of the 1997 decision to construct a new water treatment plant to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act," he said.

Those costs may have affected the fate of the levy.

"The annual payment on this plant significantly increased water rates and the encumbered cost from this project which was finished last May, has given citizens reason to consider their own financial issues and concerns prior to voting in the recent law enforcement levy," Hohnbaum said.


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