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Washington Voices

Rockford settles Sheriff’s Office bill

Thu., July 4, 2013

Payment covers year to date; future bills will come monthly

The town of Rockford has paid what it owed for its law enforcement contract with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The town was billed $32,000 for 2013, but the City Council balked at the cost, saying the town couldn’t afford it. State law requires that the town either hire its own police officers or contract for the service, but the town had not made any payments this year.

During a recent town hall meeting, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich pledged not to abandon the town even though the bill hadn’t been paid, but said the issue had to be settled.

“They paid what they owe us to date,” Knezovich said. “They sent it in and they requested that we set up a desk for a deputy in the city. It looks like they’re working to set up a stronger relationship with the Sheriff’s Office.”

Knezovich said he has already talked to one of his captains about accommodating the town’s request. Having a desk for a deputy to do paperwork may not necessarily mean that the Sheriff’s Office will have more of a presence in the town, which has the highest number of calls for service among the southern Spokane County towns, Knezovich said. “It’s always a balancing act for the deputies that work there because they have such a large geographic area,” he said.

The deputy that covers Rockford is responsible for the southeastern quadrant of the county, from the Spokane and Spokane Valley city limits south and Highway 195 east. The area also includes the towns of Latah, Waverly and Fairfield.

Rockford will be billed monthly for the remainder of the year, said Mayor Micki Harnois.

The contract payment was approved at a recent council meeting after a short discussion, she said. “They just went ahead and approved it with the rest of the checks,” she said.

There has been debate in the past about adding a utility tax to pay for the contract, but that was not discussed when the bill was paid, Harnois said. “We probably will at the next meeting,” she said. “We just took it out of the general fund for now.”

“I’m just pleased that this has been resolved and it sounds like the town hall meeting had a good effect,” Knezovich said.

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