VILLAGE OF COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW)-- The Village of Cottage Grove is getting its own police department but it will come at a hefty price for taxpayers.
Right now, the Village runs a joint department with the Town of Cottage Grove, but the Village Board president, Diane Wiedenbeck says the village pays about 60 percent of the police costs but only receives about 30 percent of the services.
However the Village's planned department would mean a roughly $250 tax increase on the average home next year.
“I'm willing to pay it and all of us on the board are tax payers,” Wiedenbeck said. “We realize it's a jump but there's been an effort since 2002 to get the taxes lowered. In my estimation they've been lowered too much.”
The Village Board passed a preliminary budget this week which includes the tax increase to fund a new 10-officer police department. The existing department consists of 10 officers, who can all apply to work at the new department.
“Now we'll have a chance to do some proactive policing,” Wiedenbeck said. “We'll see the police more often, they'll be more ingrained in the community.”
But the more than 20-percent increase in the tax levy is a hefty price. William Ray is a homeowner in the village and likes the idea of having an independent police department, but doesn't think there's enough crime to warrant the 10-person staff.
“It seems like we're stacked high with administrative costs and facility costs and the amount of officers to run that seems a little much,” Ray said.
The Village is moving forward with the project though. The Village will close next week on the $2 million building that will house the department, along with the Village's parks and recreation and public works departments.
But the budget isn't finalized. A hearing will be held December 1 at 6:00 and the public can weigh in.
“We are committed to have our own force, whether or not we have to change any of the budget money depends on what people say,” Wiedenbeck said.
No matter what-- the Village police department will be in effect January 1 and then the Dane County Sheriff's Department will police the Town.
As for the existing police facilities, the building is just leased. As for the police equipment, an agreement between the Village and the Town has not been reached.