During Tuesday night's Hartland Township meeting, Hartland manager James Wickman gave a brief update regarding an upcoming meeting that will take place this week between the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte and Hartland and Tyrone Townships to discuss the road patrol contracts that will expire at the end of the month.
Wickman said there was the possibility of some agreement being reached between the groups by using new strategies and “out-of-the-box” thinking when it comes to their current model of road patrol.
“We’re fully prepared for April 1 to receive the level of service that all our neighbors receive and that our residents pay county taxes for,” Wickman said. “Our interest in this is to be responsive to our residents. … They were satisfied with the higher level of service we were contracting for.”
With no indication from the Board of Commissioners that the contract costs will be lowered, Wickman says that the parties involved are in a “fact-finding mode” which he called appropriate considering that the township stated they needed to start at the beginning with new dialogue.
Calling it a “really big issue,” Hartland Trustee Joe Petrucci said that the whole county could be affected because the sheriff stated that he may be forced to make cuts to his department if the contracts fail.
“If he (Bezotte) lays off three or four deputies that means to me that the entire county is going to lose something as far as response times and service,” Petrucci said. “So if the entire county wants to keep the same level of service, they need to ante up here and not have Hartland and Tyrone subsidize it.
“It should not be about Hartland and Tyrone, but I think it is,” he said.
Wickman and Hartland Trustee Joe Colaianne both agreed that re-evaluating the current model for road patrols may provide a type of solution.
“The county board does not dictate to the county sheriff how to allocate his resources, all they can do is set his budget,” Hartland Trustee Joe Colainne said. “It’s up to the county sheriff to determine how to best apply his resources throughout the county.”