Eatonville officials tonight will consider whether to dissolve the town’s decades-old police department and instead hire the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department to provide law enforcement services.
Mayor Ray Harper has proposed the idea as a way for the cash-strapped town in the foothills of Mount Rainier to save money.
The Town Council is scheduled to vote on a contract at its 7 p.m. meeting at the Eatonville Community Center, 305 Center St. W. It will also vote on hiring the county to provide court and prosecution services.
Harper has said the town’s general operating fund, which covers expenses including the town’s police and fire departments, is running at a deficit this year. The council has been hesitant to raise taxes, and “something had to give,” he told The News Tribune last month.
At a council meeting in late March, roughly 200 people showed up to hear about the proposal. Residents spoke for more than an hour during public comment time, and overwhelmingly supported keeping the police department and finding other ways to save money.
Tonight’s meeting comes a week after the town was slapped with findings from the state Auditor’s Office related to its finances.
In one finding, auditors said the town in 2010 used more than $160,000 in donations meant for a trail project to instead cover general operating expenses.