Hortonville considers law enforcement options
By John Faucher
The Hortonville Village Board is considering the future of its police department that may include contracting law enforcement services from Outagamie County.
The board voted to send several policing proposals to the Public Safety Committee for further review at its June 1 board meeting.
The public safety committee met on Tuesday, June 20 to discuss the future of the Hortonville Police Department, after press time of this paper.
At the June 1 meeting, Village President Al Habeck reported to the board that he had met with Outagamie County Sheriff Brad Gehring to discuss the county’s proposals for Hortonville policing.
Habeck said the county’s first proposal did not consider 24/7 coverage for the village, so he asked them to provide a second proposal including 24/7 coverage.
The village currently has 24/7 police coverage with its own department.
The Hortonville Police Department budget includes five fulltime officers, one and a half School Resource Officers (SRO), and an administrative assistant. The Hortonville Area School District funds a large percentage of the SRO officer salaries.
Village Administrator Dianne Wessel provided a handout listing the 2017 Hortonville police budget total of $486,641.
The Outagamie County proposal for 24/7 coverage with five deputies was estimated at $558,000.
“We are significantly under what the county would be,” said Habeck.
Board member Jeanne Bellile questioned Wessel’s numbers.
Bellile said when she calculated other items into the budget such as maintenance costs, crossing guards and other factors, she came up with a higher figure than Wessel did for the village’s police budget.
“I show approximately $659,000,” said Bellile.
The board discussed policing in other communities with similar populations that have 24-hour coverage. Seymour, Winneconne, Shorewood Hills and Belleville were similar to Hortonville in staffing and coverage. Budget figures for the comparable departments were not provided.
The Outagamie County proposal for non-24/7 coverage in Hortonville was estimated at $400,717.
This coverage included four sheriff’s deputies and no office staff at the Hortonville Police Department.
For all times an officer was not available, a “floater” car from Outagamie County would handle any calls for service in the village.
Board member Kelly Schleif suggested letting the public safety committee look at the comparables and gather information and answers to questions.
“Or do we have Brad Gehring come in and let our citizens decide?” asked Bellile.
Habeck suggested putting the question out to residents as a referendum question.
Board member Jack Kuhnke said, “I think Kelly has a good idea to involve public safety and get some more information on this.”
Kuhnke also said he would like to see where Bellile and Wessel came up with differing numbers.
Schleif said more input is needed in order to come up with a recommendation for the board.
“It’s not something you do lightly,” Bellile said in agreement.
Schleif then made a motion to send the topic to the public safety committee, and Kuhnke seconded the motion. The board passed it unanimously on a voice vote.
Public Safety Committee members include Peter Olk, Jeanne Bellile, Kelly Schleif, Al Habeck and Jack Kuhnke.