EL to continue police service talks with HG

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – If Howards Grove wants patrol service from the Elkhart Lake Police Department, they will have to provide a squad car for the purpose.

The Elkhart Lake Village Board Monday agreed to make that a condition of any future police contract with their neighbor to the east.

The two villages are getting ready to negotiate a police contract for 2018. Under the current one-year agreement, the Elkhart Lake Police Department provides ordinance enforcement in Howards Grove, with Howards Grove participating in the Elkhart Lake Municipal Court.

However, the Elkhart Lake police do not provide patrol service in Howards Grove, which does not have a police department. Any ordinance violations are reported by Howards Grove officials to Elkhart Lake, which then issues a ticket.

Elkhart Lake is providing some patrol service in Howards Grove this summer on a shortterm basis under a “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement grant from the state through the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, but that program will end soon.

Howards Grove officials continue to express interest in Elkhart Lake providing regular patrol service there, but Elkhart Lake officials continue to have concerns over costs and liability.

“I think it would be more palatable if they have their own car,” Village President Alan Rudnick stated during a Protection of Persons and Property Committee discussion prior to the board meeting.

The concern is the wear and tear on the village’s squad cars from going to and from Howards Grove on a regular basis.

Elkhart Lake Police Chief Michael Meeusen said that, in his discussions with Howards Grove officials, he believes the village has the money to buy a patrol car for his department to use in Howards Grove.

“They want to talk contract first, then go buy a car,” Trustee Lynn Shovan said.

Meeusen also expressed concern about how many hours of patrol there would be in Howards Grove, particularly how that would impact his officers’ hours in Elkhart Lake.

“We don’t want to cut what we have here,” Meeusen cautioned.

He said he would prefer to use part-time officers to patrol Howards Grove rather than fulltime officers, to avoid adding payroll and benefit costs to his department’s budget.

Trustee Geoff Bray asked about charging Howards Grove for mileage if the Elkhart Lake police drove one of the village’s cars there for patrol.

Meeusen said he currently charges mileage for any trips he has to take to Howards Grove in relation to the current police contract.

That amounts to more than $5 a trip, he noted. “That’s almost a deal-breaker for them.”

“We should look at it but start with them having their own car,” Shovan said of negotiating a contract for patrol services in Howards Grove.

She said village officials will be meeting soon with their counterparts from Howards Grove to continue negotiations.

The council approved Meeusen’s request to apply for an opening on the county SWAT team.

Meeusen said he represented Elkhart Lake on the squad before becoming chief. The officer who succeeded him has since resigned from the SWAT team, leaving an opening.

“My question is, do you have time for it. You’re a busy guy,” Rudnick asked.

“I’d like to try it,” Meeusen responded.

The board approved a concourse and escort for a Porsche event Sept. 2, but there was some discussion of the car parades.

Meeusen noted that the Porsche concourse and escort will be the third such in the space of less than a month in the village.

“We’re adding more of these events that people want to close streets for,” Village Administrator/ Clerk/Treasurer Jessica Reilly noted. “People might change their minds on getting their driveways blocked.”

Meeusen suggested that, for smaller events like the Porsche one, the street closings be limited to stretches where there are no private driveways that would be blocked.

The board accepted a recommendation from the Public Works Committee for a new past due water bill policy.

Reilly said the village currently waits until bills reach $500 or so before they are placed on the tax roll. In many cases, that amounts to a year or more of water bills.

The village will now begin notices and warnings once water bills are two months overdue.

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