Throughout this entire process, the City & County have been committed to achieving the following goals:
- Ensure the same level of service for the City of Fairbury, if not more.
- Ensure proper amount of resources to achieve that level of service.
- Achieve a substantial cost savings for the citizens of Fairbury.
- Achieve cost neutrality for the citizens of Jefferson County.
Contract at a Glance
- 24/7 coverage with 6 dedicated officers
- 10-year agreement
- $56,005/mo. or $672,060 for yr. 1
- Inflation factor not to exceed 3%/yr.
- All equipment donated to the County; equipment payment provision exists in the proposed contract in the event either party terminates the agreement
- Everything but city ordinances (nuisance & dog ordinances) included; County assumes responsibility for vicious dog cases
- Termination clause requires 1-yr. notice
- Monthly written & oral report of law enforcement activity
- Sheriff-appointed liaison to the City
- Establishment of a law enforcement committee to review performance standards
Contracting out law enforcement services to Jefferson County has been a community discussion for over 30 years. Sheriff Sorensen first provided contractual price estimates in 2006, & since then, the issue has been considered at least 5 times.
Contracting law enforcement services dates back to the 1950s when Los Angeles County, California began providing police services to suburbs of Los Angeles.
In Nebraska, other communities such as Geneva, Hebron, Auburn, Waverly & Gretna all have contractual arrangements with their county governments.
Contracting law enforcement services is also an arrangment that is utilized by big & small cities alike. Communities in metropolitain areas such as Seattle, Wa, St. Louis, Mo, & St. Paul, Mn, receive contractual police services.
When fully staffed, the City of Fairbury employs a Police Chief, Sergeant, 4 full-time Officers, & a Secretary. 2 regular part-time Officers also provide assistance. The Police Department & Sheriff’s Department have a mutual aid agreement where both parties respond when needed. Therefore, it is not uncommon to observe a Police Officer & Sheriff Deputy responding to the same call, both inside & outside city limits.
Goal 1: Coverage
Commitment to providing the same level of service & coverage is paramount. The proposal under consideration provides 24/7 coverage for the City of Fairbury. The Sheriff's Department will hire 6 additional full-time Officers & a Secretary, which is the same number of full-time employees when the Police Department is fully staffed.
The table below is the staff schedule of the Police Department from July 2016. Of the 31 days in the month, 16 days had 2 Officers providing coverage, while the remaining 15 days utilized 3 officers per day. Sheriff Sorensen has proposed a 3-person rotation, meaning coverage will more often than not mimic staffing schedule 2 shown below.
Additionally, the City of Fairbury will be hiring a full-time Code Enforcement Officer to begin a more proactive role in abating nuisances such as grass, inoperable vehicles, & unsafe structures. The 2016 Citizen Satisfaction Survey identified this service as a high priority in the community. Presently, code enforcement activities involve 3 separate departments: Police, City Clerk/ Administration, & Street/Alley. With this new model, the Code Officer will streamline nuisance activities making this operation more efficient.
Goal 2: Resources
All police equipment will be donated to the Sheriff's Department. However, if the contract were to be terminated, the proposed contract has a payback provision to the City on a sliding scale over the next 10 years. Furthermore, the contractual amount that has been determined by the Sheriff's Department provides financial resources for additional vehicles, building & other operational & maintenance expenditures.
Goal 3: Cost Savings
The proposed contract is for a term of 10 years with an inflation factor not to exceed 3% per year. Year 1 expenses will be $56,005/mo. or $672,060 for the year. Last year, the Police Department’s expenses were nearly $816,000, meaning year 1 will provide almost $144,000 in savings. The last time the Police Department’s expenditures were less than $672,060 was 2009. The graph below shows past police department expenses, a forecast of future department expenses, & expenses proposed by the County. Utilizing the forecast, the proposal will save the City over $1.4 million in the next 10 years.
Goal 4: Cost Neutrality
The proposal has been crafted by the Sheriff Department & County Commission by analyzing their past budgets & audit figures to determine that the financial impact of the added responsibility will not increase the burden to county taxpayers.
Points of Consideration
Achieved cost savings will allow resources to be directed to other city priorities such as road improvements, the housing demolition program, nuisance abatement, park improvements, etc. Having an established contracted amount will simplify budgeting; furthermore, a single law enforcement agency will likely streamline investigations & improve communication.
One drawback is the financial barrier that could exist if the contract were to be terminated. The contract has a built-in payback provision for equipment that would provide the City with resources to purchase needed equipment. The contract also has a provision that would reinstate the existing arrangement with the County that provides office space & dispatching services for the police department.
Another drawback is the contract may be terminated at any time; however, 1-year notice must be provided. The advanced notice would allow both parties to plan for the transition.
One of the primary concerns with any contract of municipal services is the loss of local control; however, both entities currently work side-by-side through a mutual aid agreement, & the contract establishes an official to serve as a liaison to the City, regular reports & a joint law enforcement committee.
View Law Enforcement Interlocal Agreement