Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Half Moon Bay forced to farm out police services

Updated: 11/10/2010 10:00:03 PM PST

Hope has faded for Half Moon Bay to overcome its budget deficit after the defeat of a crucial sales tax measure, the city's last chance to retain its own police department.

"The city is going to have to contract for police services, period," Half Moon Bay City Manager Michael Dolder said after an emergency meeting last week at which City Council members contemplated having to cut roughly $1.2 million out of the city's general fund by June -- money they were counting on before voters defeated Measure K, a 1-cent sales tax increase that would have raised as much as $1.4 million for the city each year. 

The City Council asked interim Police Chief Lee Violett to begin drawing up a request for proposals to send to other police agencies.

Overwhelmed by mounting deficits, lack of local revenue and the rising cost of benefits for personnel, the City Council has already cut 17 positions and $2.6 million from its $9.2 million annual budget. 

City officials have spoken of disincorporation as a last-ditch solution, but it's more likely that the city will be forced to contract its police department to another agency, just as it has contracted its fire services to Cal Fire.

Council members have also talked about scrapping the entire Recreation Services Department, as well as contracting out what remains of its Planning and Public Works departments. But the Police Department accounts for nearly 40 percent of the city budget, and it has been preserved with most of its personnel intact -- until now. 

Posted by Steve Sinai 

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