ST. LOUIS — The financially beleaguered city of Bel-Ridge this week decided to dissolve its police department and contract with its neighbor Normandy to provide police services.
A state audit last year found Bel-Ridge operated on a roughly $1.1 million deficit from 2016 to 2018 and made recommendations to get its “poor” finances in shape. One of those recommendations was to reduce spending where possible.
Mayor Willie Fair said that dire picture made the decision to contract with Normandy a relatively easy one.
“We’ve gotta do what we gotta do,” he said this week. “You can’t have $5 and expect to spend $15. The city just doesn’t have the money.”
The city council voted Thursday to eliminate the police force.
The city plans to save roughly $40,000 a year on police services — currently its biggest budget item.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to see the city survives,” Fair said. “We’ve got to fix the budget, and that’s the bottom line.”
Police officers in Bel-Ridge will have to apply for new jobs in Normandy. If they get hired, Fair said they’ll get a raise of roughly $7,000.
Bel-Ridge police Chief Mark Harris did not respond to a request for comment, but on Facebook Tuesday the police department posted an agenda for a meeting in Normandy and said officers “were not made aware of this meeting by any officials.”