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Lombard column: ‘Get ready to pay, pay, pay if Indian Land incorporates’

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Guest columnist R.M. Lombard is an Indian Land resident.

Iread with interest the guest editorial by Jerry Holt in Carolina Gateway (Nov. 29), where he raises the question of parity of Sheriff Barry Faile’s actual charges to Heath Springs and Kershaw and proposed charges to Indian Land, if incorporated. There are several observations I wish to make.
First, the proposed increase of $15,000 (from $23,500 to $38,500 for coverage not provided 24/7) suggests, at a minimum, that costs to the sheriff’s office are going up.
Second, the $549,330 charge for eight officers for Kershaw works out to $250 per resident (assuming 2,200 residents). Assuming, conservatively, an Indian Land population of 20,000 at $250/resident, that works out to a budget just under $5 million. Sheriff Faile’s suggested budget of $2.9 million ($145/resident) almost seems to be a bargain. Regardless, the Voters for the Town of Indian Land budget for police services appears to be woefully inadequate.
Third, Mr. Holt conflates the dollar per officer figure (his suggested $99,824) by including the presumed one-time charge of “additional upfront charges” of $793,500. Excluding this, the per-officer dollar figure falls to $78,294, obviously not an insignificant sum, but in line with Sheriff Faile’s figures. As all business people know, the most expensive asset in a business (and policing is a business) is the employee cost. New hires at competitive rates, benefits, overtime, equipment, etc. all add to the cost.
Lastly, Mr. Holt refers to agreements to continue to provide police coverage even if the area is incorporated. The unanswered question is “what would bethe minimum (if any) routine police coverage that the sheriff would be required to provide if the funding is not there?”
If I recall correctly from a recent Indian Land Action Council meeting and Nov. 29 Gateway article, the county would not be obligated to continue its current level of funding for police services if Indian Land incorporates. And the specter raised by Mr. Holt of “20 unemployed police officers and 20 unused police cars” would only mean an incorporated Indian Land could end up hiring/purchasing those same officers and cars at additional costs nowhere accounted for in the VTIL proforma budget (which even VTIL now acknowledges is inadequate).
I do not feel parity is an issue; reality is. Get ready to pay, pay, pay if Indian Land incorporates.