Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's Time for Arlington And Lakeland To Be Real (Cities)

When we read a recent Commercial Appeal article, we immediately thought of a comment made by a friend of ours: “Apparently, you’ve got me confused with someone that gives a damn.”

The report out of Lakeland and Arlington was that the possibility of a contractual merger of Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department would result in a “pricey problem” for the “fast-growing” towns.

The mayor of Arlington even said that apparently the people considering the merger of the two departments “hadn’t thought about little Arlington and little Lakeland in their plans.” After all, the sheriff’s department provides law enforcement there now.

We pause to wipe a tear from our eyes.

Our first thought is why are the rest of us – the majority of whom are paying city taxes for our own police departments – should be subsidizing these two towns’ protection.

It’s just a basic principle of government that if you want to incorporate as a municipality, you should be prepared to pay for an “urban level” of services, and at the top of that list of critical services is of course law enforcement.

For too long, Shelby County Government subsidized the budgets of these smaller cities, and in recent years, the philosophy of county services has become more equitable for Memphians.

After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Shelby County Government had a policy that it would pay half of the cost of major roads inside all Shelby County cities – except for one, Memphis. Meanwhile, county government provides all local funding for the towns’ schools – although the county school district genuflects to the town mayors and generally ignores county officials.

In the newspaper article, an Arlington resident said: “We’ve got good patrols and good service from the sheriff’s department, and I would hate to think that would be lost.” Meanwhile, officials in Lakeland - home of the original faux city government – said: “We’ve passed a resolution saying we’re not in favor of it, and we’ve sent those resolutions to every elected official in the county and our state representative.”

We’re not quite sure what state government would have to do with this, but God forbid that Lakeland would become a real city and pass a property tax to fund its own police department. Instead, it prefers of course to rely on the sheriff’s patrols paid for by every taxpayer in Shelby County, including Memphis.

It’s time to wean both of these towns. They worry that it would cost about $1.2 million for a real police department to patrol within their town limits.

To bad, it’s time for them to pay up or turn in their city charters. We’re hard-pressed to understand why those of us who pay for our own police departments should also pay for theirs.


Anonymous said...

I beleive the cities you mention do pay extra for Sheriff's patrols. In any case, given the news of the last few weeks I don't think county residents will be lining up to welcome the Memphis police into the neighborhood. besides, The sheriff's office did a lot of law enforcement inside the Memphis city limits until Godwin started being such as ass.

Anonymous said...

Nobody in the county begged Memphis to annex all the way to Fayette County and in the process, devalue the entire area. The areas you talk about (Lakeland and Arlington) were only a small percentage of the total county responsibility until recent years, and now, since they are all that remains, Memphians want to throw them under the bus. You should also be thankful that Lakeland and Arlington are still attractive because they are paying larger and larger shares of the total county property tax each year becuase of their higher-than-county-average home prices.