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Area police chief to retire

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Decision comes in wake of proposal to abolish Bartonville department

Bartonville’s police chief will retire July 1, a move that came this week in the wake of a proposal to abolish the town’s police department.

Dave Howell has served as Bartonville’s police chief since March 2007. He did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

His retirement was announced after the Town Council met in closed session over the matter Tuesday night. Later in the meeting, the council received a committee report and some public testimony related to abolishing the department and contracting for police services.

Town documents show that Howell has earned a little more than $80,000 annually as chief. In addition to his salary, Bartonville budgets for a sergeant and one part-time and three full-time patrol officers. In all, Bartonville allocated about $479,000 for the department this year.

In an interview Wednesday, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Langford said that the town ruled out a patrol contract with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office. The police department in neighboring Argyle declined to make an offer. However, Double Oak did offer a preliminary, two-year contract for services.

The Double Oak Police Department offered to provide adequate patrol, crime reporting and crime investigative services to Bartonville for $349,383 for the first year, according to documents obtained in an open-records request.

In subsequent years, the fee would be calculated as a percentage of the department’s operational costs. The proposal also keeps Double Oak and Bartonville municipal courts separate at first but ultimately would move toward consolidation in Double Oak.

At about 2,800 people, Double Oak has about twice the population of Bartonville. But Bartonville is about 2 1/2 times larger in land area, covering about 6.3 square miles in south-central Denton County.

Between the two towns is Lantana, a massive subdivision of single-family homes with a population of more than 7,000 that is governed by special taxing districts. Lantana contracts with the sheriff’s department for patrols.

Bartonville has one of the lowest property tax rates among Denton County cities, at just 19.2940 cents per $100 valuation. Council members have said they were concerned that the town would need to raise taxes to continue funding a police department.

Bartonville residents and visitors pay a quarter-cent sales tax to a local crime control and prevention district. Langford said there had been no discussion on the effect such a change would have on the tax and the district.

The Town Council is expected to discuss both issues during a work session at its July meeting and hold a public hearing on the proposal in August, prior to determining its 2014-15 budget.

The Town Council meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Town Hall, 1941 Jeter Road.

“We’re still gathering information right now,” Langford said of the two issues. “We may not do anything.”

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.