Venice mayor questions duplicate law enforcement costs

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - Venice mayor John Holic wants to know why city residents pay the same for county law enforcement, especially since they have their own police department. He says city residents are overpaying.

County law enforcement officials say it's just not that simple.

"We are paying taxes for something we are not getting," says Holic. He says he's not talking about things like animal control, the jail, swat team, forensics, and the helicopter. They should pay for the joint use of those special services. He's talking about the millions of dollars in patrolling. "Our police department patrols the City of Venice. The county really doesn't. They transverse Venice, but it doesn't patrol Venice."

Venice resident Marty Dover says it's a good question. "I think the mayor is trying to do the right thing by saving money for the taxpayers." However she's concerned it could ruffle a few feathers, saying the way it works now, "I am afraid this money hunt is going to jeopardize the cooperation. That is my main concern."

Holic says he would like to see what's called a municipal services taxing unit, which could break down who pays for what.

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight says it's really not that simple. He says you can't compute for all the training and support they offer on a spreadsheet; that they don't want to be sending bills for when they do help out. He also says that their coverage outside city limits impacts crime inside.

The mayor says he just wants to have the discussion. "If we lose that ability to question it, I think we have lost a lot. That is all I am doing is questioning it. If someone gets angry over that, I can't help that. It's my job to question things."

Holic says this type of deal has been made in other counties in the state. He doesn't see why it would be so radical here.