Pomona force on city agenda
Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Created: 07/31/2010 10:37:54 AM PDT
POMONA – City administrators are recommending the City Council refrain from placing an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot asking voters whether the city should consider contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services.
An estimate for law enforcement services, referred to as a Phase I analysis, submitted by the Sheriff’s Department does not contain sufficient information to make a decision as to whether the city should keep the Pomona Police Department or dismantle it and contract with the county, according to a city staff report.
Based on the information in the analysis there is no way of comparing what the Police Department currently provides compared with what the Sheriff’s Department would offer, City Manager Linda Lowry said.
“We don’t know if the hours of service are less, equal to, or more than what we’re getting out of the Police Department,” Lowry said. “We don’t know what the hours of service are, and we can’t get that right now.”
On Monday, the matter will go before the City Council. The open portion of the meeting begins at 6:45 p.m. at City Hall, 505 S. Garey Ave.
Administrators on Monday will also ask the council if they should stop exploring the possibility of contracting for law enforcement services or if they should continue and seek a Phase II analysis from the Sheriff’s Department.
A Phase II analysis would be a more in-depth study that is expected to provide detailed information on topics such as start-up costs, the value of Police Department assets such as its fleet, building and equipment, and determine what personnel would be absorbed by the Sheriff’s Department.
Such an analysis would cost about $25,000.
Part of the difficulty in comparing the two departments is that each has a different system of calculating the service it provides.
The Sheriff’s Department calculates service in terms of a “deputy sheriff service unit.”
Under that system, a deputy, his replacements when he is off duty, as well as costs of maintaining his patrol car, fuel, clerical staff and all other personnel and resources, are built into the service unit.
Pomona police base their calculations on the number of people required to carry out a job.
The Sheriff’s Department estimate was reviewed by a consultant from the firm of Willdan Homeland Solutions, which determined the city could save about $3 million under the county, according to the staff report.
However, the estimate does not include start-up costs or potential reductions in revenue currently coming into the city, according to the staff report.
The consultant pointed out the estimate does not provide information on the effect of ongoing expenses such as medical costs of retired personnel, lease obligations and other factors that would not be eliminated if the city contracted with the county, according to the staff report.
The city must look at those costs and determine if they are truly fixed or if they can be reduced or eliminated, Lowry said.
Another factor that has to be analyzed is how long it would take to achieve a savings or eliminate costs if any of these costs are found to be controllable, she said.
A Phase II analysis would require the involvement of a management-level member of the Pomona Police Department, according to the staff report.
As a result of recent cutbacks, the department doesn’t have a lieutenant or higher ranking officer available to be involved in the analysis, according to the staff report.
It would cost at least $70,000 to fund for six months a lieutenant’s position that would be assigned to work on the analysis, the staff report said.
The consultant’s report said that although the Phase II analysis is said to take about six months, a more realistic time frame is nine to 12 months.
In the past two years, the city has cut staff, downsized programs and outsourced some services as part of its cost-cutting efforts.
For 2010-2011, the Police Department’s budget was cut from about $43million to about $37 million, according to the staff report.
Since the Police Department has made millions worth of cuts since last year it would be appropriate to step back and see how the department performs, Lowry said.
Mayor Elliott Rothman said he will be listening to council members’ discussion on Monday night.
“There should be some debate. … I imagine a lot of people will show up,” he said.
In reviewing the Phase I report, Rothman said he found “there’s a lot of generalities and not a lot of substance.”
Councilman Steve Atchley said it’s hard to say what the council will decide about putting a measure on the ballot, but he thinks it isn’t ready to forget about the matter.
“On the idea of gathering further information I would say the council would look favorably on that,” Atchley said.
At the July 19 council meeting, Atchley proposed leaving the matter for the next council to address.
A Phase II analysis will take time and not be ready by the November election, he said.
A decision on a ballot measure would be best addressed after the necessary research is completed and the services of the Pomona Police and the Sheriff’s departments can be reviewed.
“If it turns out to be a bad idea we don’t” move with a ballot measure, Atchley said.
But if the research shows there are benefits, the matter is taken to the voters.
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