Loxahatchee Groves is deciding how it will pay for its sheriff's contract that will double starting next fiscal year. If will likely come straight from homeowners.
Since Loxahatchee Groves incorporated in 2006, the going rate for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office services has slowly gone up every year. This year, it was around $295,000.
Next year, the sheriff's office office says they are raising the rate by 100%.
"We have no choice. We either hire the sheriff for $600,000 a year or we get our own in-house police department at over a million dollars cost," said Councilman Todd McLendon.
So, now the question is: How does the town of 3,000 or so pay for the $300,000 dollars?
"I have no doubt, this will be a big expense to our residents," said Councilman Dave DeMarois.
Under the proposed budget, the increase would come straight from homeowners. The millage rate, the local property tax, would be nearly doubled to 2.6. Annually, an increase of around $150 for the average 5-acre homestead.
Homeowner Virginia Standish suggested new town additions, like the Palm Beach State College campus and adjacent shopping area foot the bill.
"Let's put the costs where they're being created, thank you," she said closing her three minute statement to council.
With the new going rate for the sheriff's department, Mayor Dave Browning says the low crime area will now get a deputy in town 24/7 opposed to a roving one, whether they like it or not, which most did.
But not passing this would doom them.
"I've lived out here 38 years. I don't want to pay more taxes but at the same time I do not want our town to fail," Browning said.
The first reading passed with a 4-1 vote. There are two more readings before the new fiscal year, which starts October 1.
The rate can be lowered in future readings.
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