Discussions between Aubrey, Krugerville and Cross Roads officials involving the three cities forming a joint police department fell apart recently after Aubrey officials decided a joint force was not in their city’s best interests.
However, Krugerville and Cross Roads officials have decided to move forward with the merger, which will give each city 24-hour police surveillance and a joint municipal court system.
Aubrey city officials, on the other hand, have announced plans to increase funding for their police department to strengthen the department’s manpower.
Aubrey Mayor Roy Magno said he felt the merger was not in the best interest of the city, financially. Magno also said he did not feel comfortable adding another layer of government to the police department and court.
“There were a lot of unknowns and a whole lot of factors that went into the decision,” he said.
“One day, Aubrey will be bigger than both Cross Roads and Krugerville and I didn’t feel comfortable giving two-thirds of our decision-making away to two other cities without having a clear picture of the future.”
Before Aubrey left discussions, Magno said he tried to negotiate a possible interlocal agreement with the other cities instead. He said the interlocal agreement would have allowed the cities to “test the waters.”
“It would have allowed us to see if this could really work,” he said. “We offer the same type of agreement to them for fire services, but they decided that this wasn’t for them.”
According to city officials, Houston-area cities Bunker Hill, Hunter Creek and Piney Point consolidated their police forces in 1977 and is the only known consolidated police force in Texas.
Discussions about a potential merger first began in the spring. In the beginning, it appeared the merger was a done deal. Both the Aubrey and Krugerville police chiefs expressed the merger was a good idea and each supported it.
They said the merger would create a force that would address the population and traffic growth officials expect will take place in a few years.
Officials in Cross Roads seemed a little hesitant at first. The town currently doesn’t have its own police force, but it is served by the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. Town Council members questioned whether a joint force was the best option financially, but they eventually agreed to enter negotiations in June.
Though talks fell apart, Magno said the relationship between the three cities has not changed.
“We have nothing but respect for each other,” Magno said. “But the decision was financial at the end of the day, and we’re looking out for our residents first.”
Cross Roads Mayor Steve Smith said the merger with Krugerville will be funded beginning Oct. 1, although the transition will take several months afterward.
“The next step is for each town to appoint three commissioners to oversee the department, which will be done during the respective council meetings [this month],” he said.
Cross Roads and Krugerville signed the consolidation agreement last week and officials from each city will work on ironing out budget details before the end of the fiscal year.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.