SMITHVILLE, GA - Smithville city leaders are one step closer to creating a police department.
On Thursday night, the city council passed a vote to include the salary of one officer in next year's fiscal budget.
Mayor Jack Smith said the city was looking to reinstate it's police department to put an end to vandalism, stealing, and semi-trucks violating the law by driving on Smithville streets.
"The whole fence on the south end about 200 foot, same length laying on the ground," Mayor Smith explained to city council members.
Mayor Smith was talking about the vandalism that he said is happening across town, not to mention the dozens of semi trucks he said shouldn't be driving on the streets.
But after five years, the city is bringing back its police department.
"With nobody monitoring the big trucks and keeping them off our streets, the big trucks are just going where they please and of course they're tearing up the streets," said Smith.
Right now, deputies with the Lee County Sheriff's Office respond to 911 calls.
"If he's in the south end, it will take what 20, 30 minutes," Mayor Smith said which to him is far too long, and makes it even more difficult to catch criminals.
Five years ago, the mayor said the police department was suspended because of financial issues.
"They were paying them big money but they weren't producing," explained Mayor Smith.
But after Thursday night's city council meeting, there's now room for one officer.
Mayor Smith said $22,880 would be the number of funds allocated for one officer's salary, about $11 per hour which the Mayor said isn't much compared to what other departments are paying.
But in the small town of about 900 people, Mayor Smith explained a police department would help the business community thrive.
"This will encourage business to open here, you wouldn't want to have a business where there wasn't a police department," said Mayor Smith.
The $22,880 starting salary for the first Smithville officer will come out of the general fund.
The department already has a building, equipment, uniforms, and two patrol cars.
Mayor Smith is encouraging residents to submit an application with the hopes of a police department ready by February.