Milano eyeing first police department
MILANO–Milano city officials met with Bucklholts’ mayor and police chief last week to discuss Milano’s quest for a first- ever police department.
Buckholts established its oneman police department last fall and is seeing positive feedback in the town in less vandalism and burglaries, Mayor Hal Senkel and Police Chief James Blackmon told Milano council members.
Milano currently relies on law enforcement help from the Milam County Sheriff’s Department, Precinct 3 constable office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The town of 400 residents receives no revenue from traffic tickets written in the city limits.
Milano Mayor Billy Barnett said the idea of a police department in Milano has been tossed around for years but in the end the same problem comes about– funding.
“Our roadblock was basically funding, insurance and the overhead,” Barnett said.
“Then last year we heard about Buckholts and its police department. We thought, ‘If they can do it then why not us too’,” Barnett said.
Blackmon and Senkel about six months ago and the March meeting was the first time all parties could get together.
Buckholts officials’ main suggestion was to have everything in order before any ticket gets written.
That would include a building, a car, police chief, court, tickets, clerk, judge, prosecutor and badges, Barnett said.
But that would cost a lot of money, something Milano just doesn’t have to spare.
There is no property tax collected in Milano, nor has there ever been since its incorporation in 1977.
The municipality only receives sales tax revenue from the Texas State Comptroller’s Office and Barnett said the city has to watch its spending.
“We collect no property tax or sewer tax so we are limited on funds. We have to be careful on how we spend the little money we have. Buckholts has more of a variety of income,” he said.
NO ACTION—No action was taken at the meeting
“It was just for information,” Barnett said.
“The bottom line is, if we want it bad enough, we can do it with hard work and the willingness,” he said. “I feel like it is a matter of taking the right steps, getting our ducks in a row.”
City officials are looking at possible grants that are available through the state and federal government but have not found anything yet.
“We are keeping our eyes and ears open. It is a slow process,” Barnett said. “Our main goal is to protect the citizens of Milano.”
The sheriff’s department, under both Charlie West and David Greene, have bent over backwards to help the town, as well as Precinct 3 Constable Herbie Vaughn, Barnett said.
He said that the addition of a police department in Milano would also be beneficial to the other departments which would not have to patrol in Milano as much.
“There is nothing exceptional (with crimes) in Milano, we see the same amount of crime as any other small town. We just want to provide that same protection,” Barnett said.
As many as 11,400 vehicles come through Milano each day according to Texas Department of Transportation numbers.
Milano carries traffic from three major highways, US 190, US 79 and Texas 36.