Tiffin resists more sheriff deputies

BY HOLLY HINES | JUNE 10, 2009 7:28 AM

Because Tiffin has a growing population and a new high school in the works, Johnson County law-enforcement officials want deputies to spend more time patrolling the expanding town.

But some officials in that town, around 15 miles northwest of Iowa City, disagree.

Tiffin can’t afford it, said Tiffin City Councilor John Wright.

Because Tiffin doesn’t have a police department, the town pays Johnson County sheriff’s deputies to patrol the area and its 1,700 residents.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek is in favor of boosting the agreement to 30 contracted hours per week.

But that could result in an annual fee increase from $38,000 to $48,360, Wright said.

The hourly need for deputy patrol has exceeded the contract in past years, Pulkrabek said during the June 4 Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting.

“They aren’t paying the value for the service they’re receiving,” he said.

Wright said the city is contracted at 22 hours per week and that the council intends to maintain this number. He noted Oxford, another town in the county, has reduced its number of contracted hours with the Sheriff’s Office.

Tiffin Mayor Royce Phillips said at the meeting that he agreed with the sheriff. With Tiffin’s population increasing by approximately 100 people every year, he recommended upping patrol hours.

Pulkrabek has recruited the Board of Supervisors in an effort to sway the city councilors. At the last board meeting, he asked county officials to write a letter expressing concern over the hours they plan to contract. The supervisors agreed.

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he supports the sheriff’s view, noting that Pulkrabek is, after all, “the expert in law enforcement.”

During the June 4 meeting, officials also discussed the possibility of developing a police department in Tiffin, though nothing was decided. Pulkrabek, the Johnson County supervisors, and Phillips agree this would be a beneficial step in the future.

The Tiffin City Council plans to settle the debate over deputy patrol hours at its meeting tonight at 6:30. Supervisor Sally Stutsman noted the council has the final say in this matter.

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