Somerset County commissioners this week agreed to refund the town of Madison $77,644 the town overpaid during fiscal year 2018 for police coverage by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.

The money was part of the estimated $485,000 budget Madison spends for police coverage in a consolidation agreement with the sheriff’s office agreed upon in 2015. The new refund comes on the heels of another give-back in January, when the town received $41,755, money that was overpaid as part of the fiscal 2017 budget.

“When the sheriff’s office agreed to enter into an agreement with the town of Madison to provide police service, part of that contract is that we present a budget; and what we don’t use of that budget, we’re not going to hold on to Madison taxpayers’ money. We’re going to return it to the town of Madison,” Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said in January.

On Friday, Lancaster said the same is true for the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30. The 2019 budget year began July 1.

He said the consolidation has proved cost-effective.

“I believe that the town of Madison’s assimilation of police services to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office has overall been a good collaboration,” the sheriff said Friday. “The sheriff’s office has been able to effectively police the town of Madison while keeping costs manageable.

“The partnership with the town manager and selectmen working collaboratively towards a common goal of public safety has made this contract successful.”

The budgeted agreement inked in 2015 includes four Somerset County deputies assigned to the Madison Division of the sheriff’s office in three eight-hour shifts with three police cruisers.

Lancaster said Friday that cost savings for Madison can be found in the fact that one of the four deputies, Lucas Libby, has been deployed overseas with the military, and his hours are being replaced with reserve deputies.

“The majority of the savings come from salary savings,” Lancaster said.

The other county deputies in the Madison Division are Chelsea Merry, Racean Wood and Tyler Lefreniere.

Madison residents at Town Meeting in June approved a $2.9 million municipal budget that is expected to maintain the tax rate of $21.50 per $1,000 worth of property valuation.

The former Madison Police Department was absorbed by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office in 2015 at a cost savings for the town, but there is still a separation between the two, with the town paying the county to cover all policing services, including training costs.

The division operates in the former Madison police station on Weston Avenue, and the station remains open to the public during business hours. The savings of contracting with the sheriff’s department came through the elimination of salary and benefits for a police chief and changes in salaries and benefits for officers, Lancaster said in 2015.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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