The city of Goodhue is in turmoil after its police force resigned last week.

The city of 1,300 about 15 miles south of Red Wing will be without local law enforcement after Aug. 23, the last day for Police Chief Josh Smith and one other officer.

"This is heartbreaking to us," Goodhue Mayor Ellen Anderson Buck said Monday night after an emergency Goodhue City Council meeting.

Smith resigned at a City Council meeting Aug. 9. Another full-time officer and five part-time employees resigned on Aug. 11 after hearing Smith quit.

Smith reportedly left for a job with nearby Lake City police over pay and recruiting concerns. He did not respond to calls for comment Monday.

Yet Smith warned the council during a public meeting last month he was fielding job offers while trying to recruit officers to Goodhue.

"Not that I'm leaving you guys, because I told you I'm in it," Smith said at the July 26 meeting, two weeks before he resigned. "But the harsh reality is, I don't want to be the guy working 80 hours a week just running this PD, being on call 24 hours a day, which I already am, and leaving no time for my family."

At that time, the police chief asked council members to include discussion over recruitment. An officer quit the Goodhue department in June, bringing its full-time roster to two including Smith.

Smith argued the city wasn't offering enough money to retain officers when other communities and metro areas were willing to pay better.

"Right now ... trying to hire at $22 an hour, you're never going to see another person again walk through those doors," Smith told the council. He said smaller departments were offering at least $30 an hour.

Goodhue hasn't matched other cities' incentives such as sign-on bonuses, which Smith said affected his ability to recruit. He told the council he had zero applicants or prospects to hire another officer.

At Monday's meeting, Anderson Buck said the resignations took city officials by surprise. The council gave officers a 5% increase and Smith a $13,000 raise earlier this year but Goodhue officers were still paid lower than comparable communities.

"We were trying very, very hard to bring those numbers up," Anderson Buck said.

The council will seek extra enforcement from the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office in the interim. The mayor and other officials plan to speak with Sheriff Marty Kelly on Wednesday on what it would cost for deputies to patrol the community while Goodhue officials work to rebuild the town's police force.

Goodhue County already provides extra enforcement for some communities, Anderson Buck pointed out. Wanamingo contracts with the county to have deputies on patrol.

Yet, other council members pointed out that paying the county staff the same hours as local police — about 16 hours a day, seven days a week — would cost about $325,000 if the county charges Goodhue similar to what it charges Wanamingo. That's far over the city's police budget.

The council appeared to agree on rebuilding the city's police force rather than permanently contracting with the county, though it's unclear how long that will take. Even then, city officials say it will be "an uphill climb" to restore the department.

"They provided excellent safety and security to our community," Council member Chris Schmit said. "We want that back."

Roxanne Fischer, a Goodhue resident who attended the council meeting Monday, said she was surprised the entire police force had resigned but expects the council to work hard to rebuild the department.

"Our officers were very visible," Fischer said. "We just knew if we needed them, they would be there."

Goodhue is the latest in a number of small Minnesota towns struggling to keep up with public safety demands amid increasing budget costs and an ongoing shortage of peace officers throughout the state.

Officials in Morris, Minn., disbanded that city's police department a year ago, contracting with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services. The move followed a turbulent few months during which the Police Department was whittled to just two officers, including the chief.

Staff writer Jenny Berg contributed to this article.