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Cost of Police Protection in Mendota Weighs Heavily on Financial Picture

The Mendota City Council evaluated switching police service providers at an otherwise routine meeting.

The Mendota City Council questioned Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener about the possibility of changing Mendota’s service arrangement with his department at an otherwise routine council meeting Tuesday night.

Revenue from the service contract with the city represents roughly 2 percent of the department’s budget. Yet the $65,000 per year for police service that Mendota pays is the single biggest expenditure in the city’s budget.

“It’s our job to figure out all of our options when it comes to police protection,” said Mayor Brian Mielke, who asked Aschenbrener whether it would be possible to switch to another service provider at a lower cost.

Aschenbrener estimated that, of nearby police forces, the MHPD was the most cost-efficient. He said that if the city were serious, he would help Mendota find an alternative police provider.

When asked if Mendota might contract with the MHPD on a part-time basis, Aschenbrener was more blunt.

“You’d have to find someone else to cover the contract,” he said.

“We’re here well more than the 2 percent of our budget we charge you,” Aschenbrener later told the council.

City council members expressed concern that the $65,000 cost of police services was not being distributed in a fair manner in Mendota.

Council member Alan Ralston said he worried that revenue from liquor licenses did not come close to accounting for the percentage of police calls generated by bars in the city, unfairly shifting the tax burden to residents.

Mendota collects approximately $8,300 in liquor license fees each year. 

Mielke said the council would revisit the issue at its September meeting.

Jean knox August 10, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Just how much is your life worth? Say you need CPR & the police who usually arrive aren't there because the council questioned their worth. Or, say, you have a stoke, & this officers aren't there, not only time slips away, but so does your quality of life or your life slips away. How much is peace of mind worth? I came home many years a go to a house that had been robbed & an injured pet! Or how about your loved ones? Do you want to risk loss of a loved one or your life to a drunk driver? Let's expunge some fat cats that contribute little, NOT the police who protect our very freedom, our lives & our pursuit of happiness!!! And without drug enforcement, you may have the added cost of sending your kids to rehab or WORSE. Bring in others to cover the contract?? I hope not! We need the people who LIVE HERE who have a vested interest in this community. This concerns me. Maybe we'd better send our drug enforcement guys out to see what the city council is smoking!!! I FEEL SAFE IN THIS COMMUNITY. NOT A THING TO CHANGE IN TOUGHTIMES!!!
George Singer August 11, 2011 at 12:27 AM
If the council decides to go elsewhere for police service I think they will be in for a rude awakening. Hopefully they will be held accountable for the response times that could be 10 minutes or longer for an in progress incident, when something bad is happening 10 minutes seems like a lifetime. Who knows how long it will take to have a police officer at your door for a non priority incident. I bet $65,000 doesn't even cover what it costs to hire one officer when you take into account salary, benefits, training, and uniforms etc. Seems like they are getting a good deal. As a former resident of Mendota I can tell you that it is not a crime free paradise. There is a fair amount of criminal activity. If some other agency gets the contract I would bet money there will be an increase in crime, and there probably won't be a squad car driving through town on a regular basis like there is now to deter anything.
Brian Mielke August 11, 2011 at 03:28 AM
George and Jean. As elected officials for the City of Mendota, our job is to be good stewards of our constituents money. Police and fire protection account for approximately 50% of the cities budget. It is prudent and wise to make sure all options are explored without jeopardizing public safety/response times. It is not uncommon for cities without their own police department, to occasionally explore all of their options or renegotiate their contracts. Speaking as a father of three, safety and response times are of utmost importance. Rest assured that we will do what is right for the City of Mendota as far as public safety is concerned, we are simply just asking a few questions. Brian Mielke, Mendota Mayor
Peggy Rodewald December 13, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Thank you Mayor - well said!

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