Lott, Texas Shuts Down Police Department After 3-1 Vote to Disband
As a result of a budget shortfall, the Lott City Council has disbanded its police department.
The police chief was required to turn over his keys and equipment on Tuesday, August 23rd.
Falls County Sheriff's Office Taking Over
The Falls County Sheriff’s Office will secure the police building, take inventory of the evidence room, and begin transporting the inventory to the agency’s office in Marlin, according to KWTX.
Lott City Council Says Budget Issues to Blame
Mayor Sue Tacker says there just isn’t enough money coming in to support the police department in Lott, since it's the city’s biggest expense. Last year, the Lott Police Department only generated $24,061, while department expenses came to a total of $425,771.
Leading into his motion to defund Lott PD Monday night, Council Member John Travis Golding gave this statement:
As of July 31 2022, combined with the last two fiscal years, all of our departments have run a $411,800 deficit. Of that $411,800, $439,931 was police and the court department, 106 percent of our overall deficit for the last three years. We have proposed a budget for this next fiscal year 2022, ending September 30, 2023. In our proposed budget, we have budgeted a deficit of $104,342 for all departments for the year: our police and courts make up $237,000 of that $104,000. That’s 227 percent of the debt we’re going to be in. In fall of 2021, our independent auditor warned the city council that if we don’t get control of our expenses, this city would be bankrupt in the next two to three years. It is the duty of this council to be responsible for the financial sustainability of this city.
KWTX reports that there was no opportunity for public comment listed on the city council agenda, and one council member did not attend the meeting due to being ill.
Lott Residents React
Some citizens of Lott said losing the police department wouldn't make much difference, comparing the town to other Falls County communities like Chilton and Golinda, which also do not have city police forces. However, many protested the decision during Monday night’s meeting at the Lott Civic Center, claiming they no longer had the protection needed to stay safe in the community.
City of Lott Courts Department will continue to remain in effect for the next 30 to 90 days, and Chief Michael Hamilton and his lone remaining officer, Terry Kimble, will receive two weeks severance pay.