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Calif. City Approves Plan to End Police Dept.



Maricopa police are no more. At a city council meeting Thursday night a contract with the Kern County Sheriff's Office was approved for law enforcement coverage. That clears the way for the police department to be disbanded.

The Maricopa city council approved a whole host of measures designed to fix the city's financial mess. The city administrator says having the sheriff cover the city and disbanding the police will save the city a lot of money.

The Maricopa city council voted unanimously to follow city administrator Eric Ziegler?s plan to get the city back on the right track. The first step was to approve a $100,000 a year contract with the sheriff's office. That means the end of the Maricopa police department. Deputies want to reassure residents here they will be protected.

"I?d like them to rest assured that they are going to have goods quality law enforcement services here," Lt. Drake Massey of the Kern County Sheriff?s Office said.

But the contract does not call for a deputy to be stationed in the city 24/7. So, it could take a little longer to get a deputy.

"Our deputies will be responding from the Taft substation so there will be a little bit of extended response time," Massey said.

The second part of Ziegler?s plan was to switch garbage collection to an outside company. The third step was to raise money by leasing space for a cell phone tower to a wireless company. That deal will bring in roughly $125,000 to the cash strapped city.

"Mr. Ziegler is doing a good job he's got a real handle on the whole situation," Maricopa resident Dick Albright said.

Council also approved a plan to take most of the money from the cell tower deal and use it to pay back a road work fund the city had improperly been borrowing money from. Part of the money will go into an emergency fund. Residents we talked to were happy with the plan.

"I think it?s going along very well I believe since they've done the Kern County Sheriff it has sort of mollified a lot of the folks around here," Albright said.

These steps will not fix all of the city's financial problems. Ziegler will present council with a revised budget later this month. Ziegler says his plan can have the city completely out of debt in three to five years.


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