A Dardenne Prairie police department probably isn’t going to happen for a while.
The city’s Board of Aldermen is set to renew its contract for police services with the St. Charles County Police Department. Aldermen discussed a new three-year contract with the county at the city’s Nov. 2 meeting. The contract may be voted on by the board as early as Nov. 16.
Services include paying for one officer patrolling 16 hours a day, seven days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The shifts would be from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other services included are SWAT, forensics, detective bureau, dispatching and records.
Contracting for police services will get more expensive. The city budgeted $312,674 in 2016 for law enforcement provided by the county. That bill will go up to $330,501 in 2017, down slightly to $325,279 in 2018 and rise to $335,296 in 2019. In 2014, the city paid $296,080 for police protection.
Mayor David Zucker said aldermen discussed the contract at the Nov. 2 meeting and decided against adding additional hours or personnel. “Everybody is of the mind that our law enforcement needs are such that the extra costs are not warranted,” Zucker said.
The city, which has a growing population that may have reached more than 12,000, according to recent updates from the U.S. Census Bureau, has not moved toward developing its own police department. Neighboring municipalities, including Lake Saint Louis, O’Fallon, St. Peters and Cottleville – with a population of about 5,000 – have their own police departments.
“If you’re recruiting, training, paying, supervising, equipping and insuring people, it would be more than we’re spending for the contract by quite a bit,” Zucker said. Other communities also have more revenue sources, particularly sales tax revenue, to pay for a local police department.
“There may come a time when activity warrants the additional outlay but right now, our incident level is such that we just don’t feel the significant increase in cost is warranted,” he said.
Meanwhile, police services are a significant part of the proposed 2017-18 city budget. The board is expected to approve the budget in December before the city’s next fiscal year begins Jan.1. The draft 2017-18 budget includes $3.11 million in proposed expenditures. The city is projecting $3.64 million in revenue with a $531,293 in surplus.
Zucker said the board discussed the city’s operating portion of its budget at its Nov. 2 meeting. Aldermen are expected to discuss the city’s capital improvement portion of the budget at a special meeting on Nov. 16 and may vote on the budget on Dec. 7.