Apr 9, 2013 6:05 PM by Andrew Ellison - firstname.lastname@example.org
FULTON - The town of Fulton's brand new police department will cost the city more than their previous law enforcement plan with the Aransas County Sheriff's Department.
As we first told you in October, Fulton was paying the Aransas County Sheriff's Department $45,000 a year for law enforcement services.
Sheriff Bill Mills said that wasn't enough and the Aransas County Commissioners wanted to raise the fee to $55,000 a year.
The town decided to create their own police department instead and it started last week.
Rick McLester is the police chief and only officer in the department. He is a former sheriff's deputy and doubles as the town's code enforcement officer.
With this new department, the town knew it would need help when their only officer wasn't around, so they turned to the Rockport Police Department for help.
Initially, they asked the Aransas County Sheriff's Department to provide support, but they declined.
So now Fulton pays Rockport $60,000 a year to provide back up and answer calls when McLester is not available.
That cost is $15,000 more than what they were paying the Aransas County Sheriff's Department and $5,000 more than what the county wanted to charge them to continue those services.
This doesn't even take into account the start up fees associated with creating a brand new police department.
Fulton's Mayor James Kendrick says it's not about the money.
"Everybody keeps hollering about the money. The issue here is not the money. The issue is having a police department or not," he says.
But in a town that barely covers a square mile and has a little over a thousand people, is this really worth the extra cost and the tax raise that will come with it?
We asked people in town what they thought, and most said it was worth it.
Sharon Sanders has lived in Fulton for over 40 years and says it's about time.
"We can be secure and know that they're right around the corner from me," she says.
And the costs will likely continue to rise when the department adds more officers, which it plans to do in the coming years.
Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills has voiced concerns about the new department.
He could not be reached for comment today.