FOLEY, Minn. - Tough times force tough decisions.
That's the message in the city of Foley, where starting in January residents will call a private security company instead of the sheriff's department when they need nonemergency help.
On Tuesday, Foley City Council members unanimously approved hiring a private security company to provide 24-hour service to the city. The city will enter a six-month contract with General Security Services Corp. for $98,500.
General Security is the same company that provides public safety service at St. Cloud State University.
Mayor Gary Gruba said Foley is the first city he's heard of that has used a private security company. But he said he has heard other cities are looking at the option to save costs.
Since 2003, the city has paid Benton County to have three deputies patrol the city for 17.1 hours a day. The council voted earlier this month to reject a new contract from the county to provide police services for 2012.
The county had proposed a contract for 2012 that would cost $23,426 a month for three deputies. This year the city is paying $24,694 a month.
Cuts in Local Government Aid mean the city has to look at all areas to make cuts, council member Dean Weber said.
The company will start providing staffing eight hours a day in December and full time in January. The county's contract expires at the end of December.
Council members and staff will work on a plan to educate the public about the change. Emergency calls should still be made to 911 and a deputy will respond.
The security company guards will patrol the area and can make citizen arrests. They cannot investigate crimes or do traffic stops.
In September, Foley had 162 calls for service. A majority of those were traffic stops, Benton County Capt. Paul Olmanson said at the meeting.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE/The St. Cloud Times. All Rights Reserved.)