LANCASTER – Responding to residents’ demands for beefed-up law enforcement, city officials have agreed to pay nearly $2 million more a year to add six sheriff’s patrols in Lancaster. At the request of City Councilman Ron Smith, the city will add six 56-hour service units to its law enforcement contract, beginning April1. A 56-hour unit is on the street for eight hours every day of the year, so it will take about 10 deputies to staff those positions, officials said. The $400,000 to fund the jobs through the fiscal year that ends June30 will come from the city’s capital improvement fund. Funding for fiscal 2007-08 has not yet been determined. “The community has been screaming for more law enforcement,” Councilman Andy Visokey said. “The council is making a statement: We want more law enforcement.” Smith said the council wants deputies to spend at least 25 percent of their time on patrol, allowing them to spot and address minor crimes before they mushroom into more serious problems. Under current staffing levels, however, deputies spend all of their time responding to calls, with no time for simple patrol duties. “The only way to do that is to have deputies out there patrolling,” Smith said. Councilman Jim Jeffra said city staff members had been looking at ways to enhance the law-enforcement contract in the upcoming budget before Smith’s request. “We were definitely going to add deputies,” Jeffra said. Vice Mayor Ed Sileo said the council will be facing tough decisions on how to fund the deputies in 2007-2008. Sileo said he intends to revive his proposal to have property owners fund more of the expense associated with the patrol program aimed at rental properties. The program, which involves an eight-man team, costs about $1.3 million, and the city picks up 75 percent of that cost. The council had previously rejected Sileo’s attempts to impose a tax on property owners. Visokey, who voted against Sileo’s proposal in the past, said he would consider hearing it again, but he said his approval of the idea is doubtful. Visokey had opposed it in the past because the fee ultimately falls on the renters, including senior citizens on fixed incomes. “I’m hoping staff will come back with a list of ways to reduce spending and not raise fees,” Visokey said. “Hopefully, they will come back with a long list.” [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!