Reporting Bill Hudson
NOWTHEN (WCCO) — Surrounded by rolling farmland at the northern edge of the Twin Cities metro, a former township turned city is struggling to pay its bills.
There is one cost in particular that Nowthen Councilman Harlan Meyer said could break the bank: the cost of a county deputy!
“We’re not unlike any other city. Everybody’s stretched now. It’s unfortunate, our budget doesn’t allow for a $253,000 a year cost,” said Meyer.
That’s what Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart says is needed to continue giving Nowthen residents routine policing. What was given to a former township is no longer free or fair to those other municipalities in the county, which have entered into contracts for service.
“They are the last remaining incorporated city that does not have anything in place for public services other than what the sheriff’s office has been providing, free of charge,” said sheriff’s spokesman, Commander Paul Sommer.
But Nowthen residents have made it clear to the city council that they won’t stand for higher taxes. City leaders say the city’s meager one-point-three million dollar budget has no fat to trim.
Residents like Bri Blomberg can see both sides of the problem – a desire to feel safe but a need to keep a lid on rising property taxes.
“I think it’s unnecessary because the crime is so low here,” said Blomberg. “We don’t have much crime in this area!”
“If you wake up in the morning and find your window smashed and GPS gone, that’s not a call we’re going to respond to because we don’t provide you with any police services,” said Sommers.
Meyer hopes there’s still time to reach a compromise.
“The feeling is, generally, let’s try it for six months and see what happens,” said Meyer. “Is the crime rate going up, down or staying the same?”