Budget concerns put Bonifay Police Dept at risk of 2nd shut down

The citizens of Bonifay are not happy and are voicing their concerns while the city council considers closing their police department for a second time.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BONIFAY, Fla. (WTVY) - For the second time since May, Bonifay Police Department is at risk of being shut down.

The Bonifay City Council addressed budgetary concerns with BPD at a workshop meeting Thursday evening. According to the financial reports presented by Bonifay Mayor Emily McCann, BPD went over budget by 2% and 16% over the last two fiscal years and has already spent 85% year to date for this year’s budget.

BPD was shut down in May after the top three in command left the department, one from retirement, one from death and one being arrested.

To say the citizens attending Thursday’s meeting were displeased with the idea of shutting down BPD would be an understatement.

“I think there are other ways to go about saving money than cutting the police department,” said one resident taking the podium.

When citizens were given the right to voice their concerns to the council, multiple residents went to the podium, taking up nearly 20 minutes before the meeting got started.

“You can do away with almost anything else, but you cannot do away with police and fire,” said another resident, voicing their concern.

Chief Jimmy Macon, who was brought on in June when the department was reinstated, found himself getting emotional during the meeting as well.

“It’s kind of like you’re having a family, and someone comes in and divorces you,” said Chief Macon. “It’s like going through a divorce with someone you really love, and I love these people in Bonifay.”

In addition, council members went over the numbers presented by Holmes County Sheriff’s Office to have them take over protection for the city.

“The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office would provide law enforcement function to the city of Bonify for $635,000 a year and $65,000 a year for the cemetery maintenance and inmate work crew per year, with a cost increase of 3% every year unless otherwise agreed upon,” read Mayor McCann from an article sent to her by the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

This proposal is only $4,000 less than the budget allocated for BPD this year, which was $639,000 according to the financial reports presented in the meeting.

Chief Macon felt it is unfair to jump to cutting the department with him only being chief for two months, after inheriting a previous budget and not being able to present his own.

“I personally told you when I took this job, I would reduce my salary for two reasons,” said Chief Macon to the council. “One was for social security and the other is to put back for the people of the city. Most of what I was talking about at that time was my officers.”

With more than 20 years in law enforcement, Macon’s biggest concern with shutting down BPD is the safety risk.

“One thing about it, my officers are making sure this city is secure. I’m not knocking the sheriff again, but if they get a call somewhere up north, west or east of here, those officers are going to back out of here and back those other officers and that leaves this city wide open,” said Chief Macon.

No decision was made Thursday, but the fate of BPD rests in the hands of the city council.

News4 asked Mayor McCann for any additional comments, to which she denied.

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