Though no formal motion was made, the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors discussed entering into a month-by-month contract with the town of Buffalo Center to provide the town with law enforcement.
With the town’s last and only police officer, Matthew Holmquist, leaving the town and moving on to the next step in his career, Buffalo Center was left without a police officer and is currently looking for someone to hire.
“With small towns, it’s hard to keep police officers because it’s a stepping stone,” Supervisor Chairman Terry Durby said. “They get trained, get experience and then move on to a bigger force.”
Durby said Winnebago County has that problem, too, with their deputies, but since Buffalo Center only has one police officer, it has to look at various solutions to cover law enforcement, which includes going to the county asking for a month-by-month basis contract.
Winnebago County Chief Deputy Mike Droessler said he spoke with Buffalo Center Mayor John Davids who said the town is still looking to hire someone but the town wants to enter a month-by-month contract with Winnebago County for now to cover the law enforcement.
“I told him we would possibly be willing to do that for three months on a month-by-month basis, but after three months they have to decide whether they’re going to commit to us full-time," Droessler said, "because we can’t hire additional staff unless we’ve got a long-term commitment from them."
The County has similar four-year law enforcement contracts with other communities, which pay quarterly, but Buffalo Center wants to pay monthly, Droessler said.
“They’re still actively looking, but I’m hoping that they’ll just decide to contract if they can’t find somebody,” he said.
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For now, since the contract is currently on a month-by-month basis, Droessler said he can’t guarantee hours due to staffing issues, but if they sign the full-time contract he figured about 16 to 17 hours a week would be spent on Buffalo Center law enforcement.
If the town decides to contract with Winnebago County, Buffalo Center would have to pay $35,149.50 for the first year, which would then increase each year, based on population.
Currently, the sheriff's department has been covering law enforcement in Buffalo Center since September, when Holmquist left.
Even if the town hires someone, there will still be openings on the weekends, which the town will have to fill when the officer is off.
This will still require the formation of some sort of agreement with the county, according to Droessler.
Droessler and county attorney, Kelsey Beenken, will attend the next Buffalo Center City Council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9 to speak with council members about the potential law enforcement contract.
Since a final contract has not been formed, the Supervisors will address the possible contract again during their Oct. 14 meeting.