Headlines do not always tell the full story. As reported in the May 6 News Herald, the Mocksville Town Council has eliminated its police department on the recommendation of its new town manager. So where does that leave the citizens of Mocksville? Instead of its own police department, Mocksville has contracted with the county sheriff’s department to provide even more ‘round-the-clock police protection for its citizens than previously, at an annual expense savings. In addition, this transfer of responsibility will obviously reduce the amount of space required to house the town’s public safety employees.
Mocksville, with a population of 5,000, is similar to Valdese with a population of 4,400, with similar total operational budgets, just under $6 million dollars each. A major difference in the respective town finances is that Mocksville’s long-term liability (debt) will be just under $1 million, even with planned capital expenditures. Valdese closed the previous fiscal year with $7.6 million debt, and the Town Council is on the verge of increasing the town’s debt significantly, with a proposed new public safety building at a cost estimated about $7 million.
The obvious questions from this tale of towns are, should Valdese contract police protection to the Burke County Sheriff’s Department and could a similar, collaborative fire protection savings be worked out? Of course, these matters would involve a lot of in-depth analysis and hard work. At the same time, the effort may be justified with the looming $7 million dollar new public safety building and new debt at stake. It also is interesting that Mocksville’s ad valorem property tax rate is 29 cents, whereas Valdese’s rate is 54.5 cents.