A long-standing agreement between the MRID and city of Horseshoe Bend to patrol the city's lakes has not been renewed and several citizens, including the mayor, are upset about it.
"Since 1996 the MRID has had a contractual agreement to do certain things like patrol the lakes," Horseshoe Bend Mayor Bob Spear said. "This year they have opted to do nothing."
Spear made the comments June 20 at the Horseshoe Bend City Council meeting.
MRID Commissioner Barry Davenport said the MRID doesn't have the money to patrol the lakes.
"Financially we didn't think we could do it," Davenport said. "Why should we enforce the city's ordinances when it is the city's job to do so?"
Recorder/treasurer Sally Prohl said the MRID spent $1,320 patrolling the lakes last year.
Davenport said finding an off-duty police officer who wanted the assignment has been a struggle in the past.
Several citizens in the crowd expressed concern over the lack of law enforcement on the lakes. Alderman George Williamson echoed their sentiments.
Williamson said if MRID won't patrol the waters the Horseshoe Bend Police Department is obligated to.
"Boating regulations are considered state law," Williamson said. "I'm wondering why everywhere else we enforce state laws but not on the lakes."
Horseshoe Bend Police Chief Fred Mitchell Jr. said his department is spread too thin to cover the lakes.
"As chief I have to set our priorities for law enforcement," Mitchell said. "We simply don't have the people to do it right now. I'm not sure what the answer is."
Besides Mitchell there are four officers and one reserve who work in the police department, he said.
Spear said the city is trying to hire another police officer but the process has been slow.
"The chief is trying to hire someone who is certified so we won't have to pay for their certification school," Spear said.
Options discussed by the council included setting up a volunteer patrol force, but Mitchell said they would not have the legal authority to enforce city ordinances or MRID regulations.
"I think having volunteers on the water who have no real authority would be a dangerous situation," Spear said.
Even if an officer is hired, Mitchell said it would severely press his department to cover the lakes.
Alderman Erv Metzinger said he thinks the MRID needs to shoulder part of the burden.
"The lakes are owned by the MRID," Metzinger said. "The MRID and the city should share any expenses. I don't see why they won't join in."
Williamson said as the summer heats up more violators will be on the lakes.
"If you have an area to cover, you cover it," Williamson said. "It's something we need to look seriously at."
The council unanimously voted to service the police patrol boat and give the police department 12 hours of overtime to be used over the 4th of July weekend to patrol lakes.
The council unanimously approved an ordinance that will raise sewer rates by 50 cents per month.
The extra money will be set aside in a reserve fund for future maintenance repairs and updates.
The council voted 6-2 to provide water for a flower bed at the junction of Club Road and Highway 289. The estimated cost of the water will be $10 per month.