MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB)–The City of Mexico Beach has approved their contract with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office; dismantling the local police department once and for all. The final decision was made at the City Council meeting Tuesday.
In a four to one vote, the Mexico Beach City Council decided to hand all responsibilities over to the Bay County Sheriffs Office.
While the city has been in the process of potentially transferring law enforcement duties for months, today was the last step.
“I think that a majority of the council felt that it was an upgrade. Any time that you can give our citizens and property owners an improved service, no matter what it is, that’s our job,” said Al Cathey, Mayor for Mexico Beach.
While there’s nothing in the contract stating the Sheriff must hire current officers, the city remains optimistic. City Administrator Andy Anderson says Sheriff Tommy Ford has already given out three conditional job offers to current Mexico Beach police officers. The officers will go through training to become deputies.
“Sheriff Ford had told me that he will give them the option whether they want to come back to Mexico Beach and patrol here or go else where in Bay County,” Anderson said.
The City Council says this decision will save the city money and resources.
“The first year its about $50,000. There’s a 5 year spreadsheet that I have that does show a savings of roughly about $180,000 over 5 years,” Anderson said.
But many residents were outraged. They claim the decision would actually cost the city more. Some residents spoke out at the meeting saying they have many unanswered questions.
“It’s not a cost issue, its not a quality of service issue and the council wont tell me what the issue is or us as a citizens group,” said George Gill, a Mexico Beach resident.
The City Council remains confident that their decision will save the city money which they say is needed after the year they had.
The Sheriff’s Office will take over Mexico Beach starting November 1st for the rest of the fiscal year. Then, they can renew for another year.