Silverton says they can no longer afford to keep its police department.
Right now, they have three options on the table. Village Manager Tom Carroll has outlined those options as reconstituting the Silverton Police Department, to continue a hybrid approach with a mix of Silverton officers and sheriff's deputies and contracting all police services to the sheriff's office.
Re-building the department would cost nearly $1.5 million, more than $200,000 over budget. To continue their hybrid approach, it would put the department almost $21,000 over budget. To completely hand over services to the sheriff's office would save the department at least $55,000.
Residents had a chance to make their feelings known Monday night at the first of two town hall meetings.
"Something has to be done about the safety issues here in Silverton at the most economic cost, but it has to be safety," said resident Nolan Jason.
"I would like to see my police here. I love those guys. We work together, we play together - I went to the police academy with them," said resident Carole Henderson.
There are ups and downs to the plans, including a potential tax increase to keep the department, the loss of a community police force, saving money and possibly more police services than Silverton has today.
Either way, concerns are mounting over the future of the department.
"Safety in Silverton. That's my number one, and major, concern. That's it," said Jason.
Village leaders have presented three options that would change how the streets are policed.
"This isn't just about saving money. It's really about operationally, we don't have the horsepower today to really rebuild," said Tom Carroll, Silverton Village Manager.
Silverton already contracts with the sheriff's office for some patrolling. Carroll has recommended the town contract all of their police services to the sheriff's office.
"We'll have more police services than what we have today, more than what we had two years ago. Silverton will be better patrolled than we're patrolling today," said Carroll.
If that does happen, the village could see savings of at least $55,000. That money would go to one of the most neglected pieces of the town.
"The savings would go into roads. We have some roads that haven't been touched for 20 or 30 years, and they just really need to be invested in," Carroll told FOX19.
Carroll admits most of the roads in Silverton are just fine. But, because of budgetary constraints and inability to fix the roads, this $55,000 in savings won't fix it overnight, but it is a start.
"We're in a deficit on roads, so it's going to take a long time before any savings we're achieving will be able to really get out of the hole that we're in with our roadways. Saving money will allow to start to invest, but we've got a pretty deep hole to fill," said Carroll.
To keep the department, Carroll estimates voter-approved tax increases could be .25 percent on income, $3 million on property and several years to rebuild it back to its former strength.
If the sheriff's office is contracted, no officers would be out of work and no tax increase. All of those officers would be offered jobs at the sheriff's office.
There is another town hall meeting for Silverton residents to weigh in. That is scheduled for Wednesday night March 12 at 7 p.m. at Silverton Paideia Academy.
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