Residents want police protection
“People used to leave their front doors unlocked,” said Mayor Gayla Fisher during a special meeting held at the City Building in Middlebourne on Monday, June 22. “But it isn’t that way anymore. The people feel they need the extra patrolling around the town of Middlebourne.”
An increase in the crime rate throughout the county has brought about the need for increased police protection and a stronger presence in Middlebourne. For this reason, the town council is once again considering entering into an agreement with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department, a move they feel confident about thanks to the cooperation of Sheriff Bob Kendle’s administration.
“Once you crack the whip, soon people will realize that we aren’t going to put up with crime here,” stated Kendle. “If you don’t like it here, stay where you’re from.”
In a recent online poll from the Tyler Star News, it appeared as if the residents of Tyler County agreed with the sheriff and the council’s move to crack down on crime, with 80 percent of the votes in favor of increased patrols in Middlebourne and 20 percent against.
The police protection will not come free, however, and the additional 20 hours of patrol time will cost the town approximately $20,000 per fiscal year. There is also a possibility of a municipal rate increase in the near future, a stark realization the residents of Middlebourne have not dealt with in recent years.
“The last time the rate was increased was 20 years ago,” stated Fisher.
There are currently 363 municipal service customers in the town of Middlebourne according to secretary and treasurer Dave Smith. Smith also informed the council that the budget from last year fell short of covering street lights or street maintenance, therefore, giving yet another reason for a proposed increase.
The current municipal service fees per month are $7.50 per family, $5.50 for individuals, $14.50 for businesses for profit, and the fee for churches and other is $10.50.
According to Smith’s preliminary calculations, an increase in rates to cover services could cost each household and business an additional $10 per month. This increase would cover the cost of all municipal services including police protection in Middlebourne.
Though controversial, there was little negative feedback from the assembled residents in regards to the proposal to enter into the agreement or the possibility of increasing fees. The council will continue to investigate all options to find a solution that is reasonable and fair.