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updated: 10/4/2011 5:09 PM

DuPage County may charge townships more for cop patrols

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A longtime agreement to have additional DuPage sheriff's deputies patrol several unincorporated areas is proving more costly for the county than originally intended.

So county board members are considering asking four townships to contribute more money to meet their part of the bargain.

DuPage for years has provided extra patrols in parts of Bloomingdale, Milton, York and Wayne townships. As part of the arrangement, the townships are supposed to pay 80 percent of the six extra deputies' salaries and benefits.

But a recent review of the "special policing districts" found the county is actually paying more than its 20 percent. The latest estimate has townships contributing about $403,700 of the program's roughly $635,600 cost.

Board member Michael McMahon says the gap is growing.

"We're losing money on the deal every year. That's the problem," said McMahon, who is chairman of the county board's judicial and public safety committee. "The problem is that if this was a business, we would cut this out immediately."

A final decision on what DuPage is going to do hasn't been made. Members of the judicial and public safety committee are expected to resume their discussion in a few weeks.

In the meantime, McMahon said he doesn't believe DuPage should pay for a projected $104,000 shortfall in the program.

"Right now, the county taxpayers are paying for services that a specific township wants above and beyond what is called for," McMahon said. "If they (the townships) want that additional service, they need to pay for it."

The big question is whether the townships can afford to pick up the cost.

Each has a separate tax levy to pay for the deputies. However, it's unclear whether they have the legal authority -- or even the desire -- to increase that levy to raise the money needed to address the shortfall.

Some county board members are questioning whether the townships should be charged more for the extra deputies.

"If our coverage is sufficient, that's one thing," board member Pat O'Shea said. "But if it's not sufficient, shouldn't we be providing those officers anyway?"

Board member Jim Zay said he doesn't want to see the county do anything that would jeopardize the patrols, which he says are needed to deal with crime in specific areas.

"Before we go out and send a letter to them (the townships), let's get all the information first so we could make a good decision," Zay said.