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.