Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bellevue swears in new marshal

Law enforcement contract with county set to begin

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Sheriff?s Lt. Ron Taylor was sworn in as the new Bellevue marshal at a special meeting of the Bellevue City Council on Monday, Nov. 26. Taylor and four other full-time officers will provide law enforcement for the city as part of a contract between the city and the county sheriff?s office beginning Dec. 1. Photo by David N. Seelig

After a trying summer of futile annexation talks and heated deliberations regarding fire consolidation, the Bellevue City Council is exiting the year with a bang, making significant improvement to the level of law-enforcement service.

At a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 26, the council passed a resolution that appointed Lt. Ron Taylor as Bellevue marshal, replacing Tim Green, who was the city's lone remaining officer.

The change comes after the city and county verbally agreed to a contract under which the Blaine County Sheriff's Office will provide law enforcement services beginning Dec. 1, to the tune of $352,361 for the 10 months remaining in the 2008 fiscal year.

In addition to Taylor, the city will receive four full-time officers, allowing for round-the-clock coverage, as well as 20 hours per week of animal control. Marshal's Office administrative assistant Susan Ramsey will remain in place, helping man the existing office on Pine Street.

City Clerk Dee Barton said the contract remains subject to the council's official signing of the document, but that this is merely a formality. She said support for the agreement was obvious from the number of county and city officials who crowded into City Hall to watch the ceremony.

The Blaine County Commission approved the contract at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 27.

At a council meeting in Bellevue last week, Sheriff Walt Femling said his office has been preparing to implement the changes by Dec. 1, but that because of the necessary hiring it will take some time before the new system is fully in place.

With $430,563 originally budgeted for the Marshal's Office in 2007-2008, the city is set to save nearly $600 per month by contracting with the county. However, the city will continue to pay for the maintenance and utilities of its existing Marshal's Office building. Femling said that means the cost of providing law enforcement services will remain about the same.

When the contract was first proposed in September, Marshal Green said retaining officers had become difficult since they use Bellevue as a career springboard, receiving necessary training before moving to more lucrative positions in other towns.

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