ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - The sight of a St. Pete Beach Police cruiser rolling through the city may become a thing of the past.
"I think it certainly is a difficult decision for any community," said City Manager Michael Bonfield.
The decision facing St. Pete Beach is whether to keep their local police department or agree to contract the service through the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
City leaders say a budget shortfall of nearly $1 million could be eliminated, and they would save an estimated 1.3 million a year by contracting with the county.
Marvin Shavlan, Vice-Mayor of St. Pete Beach says this issue has lingered before.
"I will say it's been the elephant in the room for quite some time. And it really hasn't come out like it has now. This is really on the table right now. And you know, it's a new world today. We've got to keep our cost under control," explained Shavlan.
Property taxes could rise as much as 25% officials say, if residents want to keep their police force.
Police Chief David Romine thinks residents appreciate what unique aspect his department brings.
"I'm the police chief in this community. I'm only concerned with this island. I'm not concerned with South Pasadena. I'm not concerned with anyplace else other than this island. And that's, I think, the real difference between the kind of level of service you're going to get," said Romine.
There's a provision in the City Charter that requires the police force come from a city department. Voters in November may be asked to repeal that provision.
"The days of being able to provide minimal budgets for your local law enforcement agencies are past," said Bonfield.
"I do not believe this community is dissatisfied or even unhappy with the level of service that this department is providing this community," Romine said.
Tuesday night, commissioners are expected to approve sending the issue to voters in November.
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Plenty of sunshine with warm temps and humid conditions. Only a 20% chance for an afternoon shower or storm.