Yorba Linda sticks to plan on move to Orange County Sheriffs
Yorba Linda sticks to plan on move to sheriff’s
BY MICHAEL MELLO / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
YORBA LINDA – After hours of impassioned discussion, the City Council on Tuesday night shut the doors on Brea’s attempt to remain the provider of Yorba Linda’s police services with a lower-cost offer.
Like the council’s decision in April to negotiate a policing contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the discussion that started Tuesday night spilled over to nearly 1 a.m. on Wednesday, with discussions about police services taking up most of the six-hour meeting.
The vote also split the same way, with council members Nancy Rikel, John Anderson and Mark Schwing voting to table Brea’s proposal. Councilmen Tom Lindsey and Jim Winder opposed the motion. They had offered a competing motion that would have, in essence, stalled rapidly-progressing talks with the Sheriff’s Department while Brea solidified its counterproposal, which came nearly two months after Brea lost the April council vote.
“These two pages are not a proposal,” Mayor Mark Schwing said, holding up a thin letter from Brea City Manager Tim O’Donnell. “They’re after the cut-off date. There’s no information.”
Anderson also opposed giving Brea another run at extending the contract it has held for the last 42 years.
“I’ve heard many times tonight that ‘Brea deserves a fair chance,’” he said. “They had it.”
Winder said many of the city’s residents want the council to consider Brea again.
“People are e-mailing me and saying, ‘This is a mistake’ (to go with the Sheriff’s Department),” Winder said.
To not allow Brea to flesh out the new proposal “is incredibly non-responsive and denies the public the ability to participate in this public discussion,” he said.
The proposal from the Sheriff’s Department chosen by the City Council would have cost the city just under $9.2 million for a year, including start-up costs. Its original proposal listed costs of $9.8 million, but sheriff’s officials agreed to cut the price by more than $600,000 a year because a new station that will be built will also house deputies who patrol county pockets in and around Yorba Linda. The annual cost now under consideration has recently dropped further, to $8.6 million, said Councilman Anderson.
In the letter under discussion Tuesday night, Brea City Manager Tim O’Donnell offered an $8.9 million annual deal, drastically less than the previous offer of retaining the current staffing level for $10.7 million, or cutting two officers to lower the price to $10.3 million. Yorba Linda’s current contract with Brea runs through early May 2013.
The Brea proposal, O’Donnell said, involves reducing the number of police officers by two and offering free dispatch and other services – services the department would have regardless of whether it patrolled Yorba Linda. In addition, O’Donnell said Brea is willing to negotiate pension liability and other costs.
As they did in April, many residents at the meeting wore large, yellow buttons saying “Brea Yes!” For hours, a majority of the public speakers said the City Council should keep Brea Police.
“I think (Brea) can do a really good job for the city. I’m not slighting the Sheriff’s Department…I think they’re just more than we need for the job,” James Prather said.
Money and response times were two points most often brought up by residents who wanted to keep Brea. A report showed the Sheriff’s Department’s response times to be about two minutes more for a priority call than Brea’s 4 minutes, 21 seconds.
Anderson reiterated his stance that selecting the Sheriff’s Department was about money, especially “getting the most service for the lowest price.”
About those dollars and cents, resident Bill Kontur told the council: “If it’s about money – if it’s truly about money – you need to go back and look at the Brea deal.”
Though most of the public speakers supported examining a new deal with Brea, there were some who told the council to hold to its current path.
“Brea should worry about its own financial issues and let Yorba Linda move forward,” resident April Lopez said.
Filed under: Police
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