The city council in Foley, Minn. voted Monday to hire private security guards to patrol city streets next year, ending a lengthy debate that had attracted the attention of Attorney General Lori Swanson.
Officials in the central Minnesota city said the change will save $53,000 a year and was necessary to cope with state cutbacks in funding to local governments. The city of 2,600 saw its local government aid payments cut by more than $150,000 this year.
"Cities are going to look at all kinds of alternative things now," Mayor Gary Gruba said Tuesday. "I think they have to. I mean the state has cut back on (Local Government Aid), and smaller towns, as well as larger cities, are feeling the effect."
Under the agreement reached Monday, city streets will be patrolled by employees of General Security Services Corporation starting Jan. 1. The Benton County Sheriff's Office will continue to respond to 911 calls and other requests for law enforcement assistance.
Earlier this year, the city council voted unanimously to hire a private security firm, but city officials agreed to suspend that plan after Swanson urged the council to reconsider.
The Benton County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday evening.