Columbus to look into county-wide police option

Published 12:54 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

While looking into future ways to shrink the small towns budget, Columbus agreed recently to look into what it would take to consolidate county police departments.

The consolidation idea came up recently at Columbus Town Council meetings when council members were discussing ways to cut the budget for next fiscal year, which begins on Thursday.

Councilmen Michael Gage and Richard Hall said Gaston County, N.C., has county-wide law enforcement and it might be useful to look into their system. Gage and Hall agreed to travel to Gaston County sometime in the near future at their own expense to explore the idea to learn if the option is feasible for Polk County.

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Gage said that funding Columbus police department takes 43 percent of the town’s general fund and other small towns have similar circumstances.

I really feel Columbus should take the lead on county-wide law enforcement, Gage said.

The topic of county-wide law enforcement has come up several times in recent years, but the towns and county have never agreed to move forward.

I feel our police department is very important, but Im always willing to look into it, Hall said. My main concern is that all the towns are covered. If two officers were in each town and we could consolidate, that could save a ton of money.

The topic could be one of many discussions at joint meetings that Polk County and the towns of Columbus, Saluda and Tryon have recently begun holding. The towns and county held the first joint meeting earlier this month. Another is planned for Aug. 3, which will be to specifically discuss the possibility of combining water sources.