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Police protection should not be a difficult decision for city of Menifee

 

Last updated 10/20/2017 at Noon



The story “Menifee City Council ponders police protection issues,” in the Oct. 13 edition of Valley News covers the recent Menifee City Council workshop on the benefits the city would reap should it choose to establish its own police department.

Cost savings to the tune of more than $44 million over the next five years, an increase of 26 sworn officers and a near doubling of the total number of staff for the proposed department have me believing this decision should be a no-brainer.

According to Tom Hicks with the law firm of Hicks, Maineri and Williams, the cost to Menifee for the contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for services is $17,254,000 for fiscal year 2017-2018 of the city’s total general fund operating budget payable to the sheriff’s department.

Increasing fees that comes with contracting with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has made this option for police protection unsustainable for all local cities, not just Menifee.

Just take a look at these numbers from Lake Elsinore and Temecula.

In Lake Elsinore, the city’s adopted 2017-2018 fiscal year budget shows just over $13 million or just under 29 percent of the city’s total general fund operating budget of $44.5 million being paid for police services, also to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

In Temecula’s 2017-2018 fiscal year budget, the city will pay $33.6 million for their contract with the county for police services or roughly 45 percent of the city’s total general fund operating expenditures of $73.7.

These three cities alone are paying $63.8 million of the sheriff’s $654.6 million budget.

The cities of Wildomar and San Jacinto also contract with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for their police services. In fiscal year 2015-2016, the most recent budget available online, the city of Wildomar paid $2.76 million while San Jacinto paid $9.93 million for services. The assumption would be that those rates have increased as well.

In May, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved Sheriff Stan Sniff’s request to hike the rates charged to 17 municipalities and other contract entities for the use of patrol deputies, making the hike retroactive to July 1, 2016. Sniff said the increase was needed to recoup higher operational costs incurred by the sheriff’s department. Under the revised rate schedule, the cost of a sheriff’s patrol deputy rose from $160.22 to $168.45 per hour – a 5.14 percent jump from the previous fiscal year.

The board also directed that nine cities pay increased sums for the sheriff’s use of facilities dedicated to servicing the communities.

In September, the supervisors adopted the county’s $5.5 billion budget as well as approved an additional $7.9 million in appropriations for the sheriff’s department. The allocation will bring the total amount set aside to reduce some of Sniff’s red ink to about $18 million. Even with that money, the sheriff is still facing a $30 million hole by the end of 2017-2018, Valley News reported in the story, “Board formally adopts county budget,” which ran in the Oct. 6 edition.

Keep all this in mind as I go back to the story that ran in last week’s Valley News.

linkDuring the Oct. 4 Menifee City Council meeting, Hicks told the group that the cost savings is simple. Adding in the cost of the buildings and all the other issues that goes along with the contract the city has with the sheriff’s department, the actual hourly cost per officer is $181.

If the city starts its own department, the hourly cost per hour for each officer goes down to only $58, Hicks said. The cost includes increasing patrols, the number of officers on the street and beefing up every other aspect of the department to keep residents safe.

I would imagine as other local cities begin to do their own studies, they would find much of the same.

So, I must ask, where is the problem in that?

 

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