City, county officials need to do their duty — sit down, find a solution
Date posted: March 5, 2014
Elected officials from the city and county need to sit down at a table and hash out their differences. Last week, the county publicly released a letter written to the Sheridan City Council indicating the mayor had asked for a meeting with a couple of county commissioners for the purpose of “clearing the air” on some issues of mutual interest.
The county has identified several of those issues:
• the law enforcement center contract
• Sheridan police officers writing more tickets into circuit court, rather than municipal court
• the annexation of county lands but not county roads
• contributions to the juvenile justice center
• issues involving annexations and Sheridan Area Water Supply customers
• the city’s decision to no longer regularly perform VIN inspections
The city has yet to identify publicly any issues it wishes to discuss. And while we believe strongly the public’s business should be open to scrutiny, we’re realistic to know how simple, informal get-togethers foment alliances and help resolve issues.
The city and county have tried “coffee diplomacy” with some of the issues on the county’s list. For example:
• When city police officers began overloading the Sheridan County Circuit Court with simple cases, the county attorney dismissed or sent them back to the city to be handled in municipal court.
• Sheridan County Juvenile Justice Administrator Neal Madson has pleaded for the last couple of years with the city not to cut the funding that is provided to the center.
• There has been a standing agreement in place for the law enforcement center in which the city pays the county $65,000 per year to house city inmates. There has been no reimbursement from the city for housing those inmates since July 2013, as the city feels the cost it expends to run the dispatch center for emergency responders should offset the cost of housing the inmates.
Since July there has been no agreement between the city and county on how this should be handled.
The aforementioned county issues are not new ones. They are dustups that have been raging — albeit largely behind the curtain — for years.
Sheridan Mayor Dave Kinskey said Monday night that multiple meetings of this nature would be difficult to arrange as the Sheridan City Council is a volunteer board.
That’s not exactly the case; each City Council member gets paid $500 per month. While that is not much, these publicly elected officials should have understood that in taking the oath of office, their duties do not stop and start with the Monday night work sessions and regularly called public meetings.
The mayor also said he did not want to waste the time of the councilors and asked that as many meetings as possible be held between city and county staff members. Finding time to resolve these conflicts, while maybe not convenient, is nonetheless a duty for those who somehow found the time to campaign.