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North Courtland to dissolve police department; city owes thousands to the IRS

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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ala. - North Courtland's outgoing mayor announced Tuesday he is dissolving the police department.

Ronald Jones tells WHNT News 19 the decision was made because the city can't afford to pay next quarter's municipal insurance totaling $5,600, and it would be illegal to have officers out on patrols uninsured.

"I had no choice... that's what I'm trying to stress to people. I had no choice," he said.

Currently, two officers work for the department full-time, and three part-time. Now, they're not patrolling due to lack of insurance. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office will be adding patrols through North Courtland instead.

There's no police chief, either.  He resigned a few weeks ago. The full-time officers are also still waiting on their salaries for the past month, we've learned.

Mayor-Elect Riely Evans, Sr. takes office in early November, and says he'll try to figure out a way to fix the problem.

"I'm embarrassed for the community, for the town, for the citizens, our citizens deserve better than this, because we are better than this," Evans said. "We have young kids, elderly people... I'm very concerned."

Mayor Jones thinks there just isn't enough money in the budget to bring back the force. Jones says the entire city has struggled ever since International Paper closed its doors in 2014.

He explained, he attempted to find a way to solve the problem, but to no avail: "Last week I had proposed to the council about selling some property, so we could have some revenue to pay off our municipal insurance and pay toward the IRS," he said.

Jones says the town owes the IRS more than $45,000. There's a tax lien on the town property that he says is worth $48,000. "The council failed to vote on selling the property, in which the IRS is going to sell anyway," he commented.

Jones said it doesn't help that the only tax base in North Courtland is the Dollar General and a gas station.

Evans takes over as mayor in less than two weeks.

"Keep the faith and continue to pray," he encouraged. "God answers prayers, as he always does. Just stand together. Right now, we are hurting, but as a community this will pass."