Lemon Grove residents will continue to be served by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, thanks to a recent approval of a new five-year contract with the agency.
The City Council unanimously approved Feb. 5 a new contract with the department, providing police services to the city at an average increase of about five percent in costs each year through 2017. This year, the city's share of contract services will be about $4.5 million.
According to a staff report prepared by City Manager Graham Mitchell, the agreement is something the city enters into every five years with the department. The previous agreement expired June 30, 2012, Mitchell said, adding that once approved, the new deal will be retroactive to that date.
"The City of Lemon Grove, along with eight other cities in San Diego County, contracts with the County of San Diego for law enforcement services," Mitchell said in the report. "The contract is a joint agreement between all of the contract cities and the County—taking advantage of common needs and economies of scale that result in a lower cost for law enforcement than having a municipal police department or individually contracting with the County."
The deal, which took longer than anticipated to get ironed out due to negotiations between the cities and the sheriff's department, brings about two major changes to the way the police services are paid for.
According to Mitchell's report, the first change comes in the form of breaking out city-specific costs of staffing versus dividing up overhead costs amongst the nine contract cities, providing "the ability for cities to add or delete positions and receive the full cost credit when a position is eliminated."
"In the prior five-year agreement, individual cities did not receive the full benefit when positions were deleted due to shared overhead costs between the cities," Mitchell said.
This new model won't take effect until fiscal year 2014-15, at which time local overhead costs will be borne by Lemon Grove, allowing the city to better control costs, according to the report.
This may mean a change in the current sheriff's station.
"The impact of the 'direct cost model' will require the City to consider reducing the building size of the current Sheriff’s station once the Rancho San Diego station is operational," the report states.
The second major change is the implementation of new operational cost caps.
"The prior contract included caps on contract increases of 5 percent for the first two years and 5.5 percent for the final three years," the staff report reads. "This cap excluded increases in Sheriff personnel costs due to contract negotiations. For this contract, the cities agreed that caps should be retained and modified to better constrain potential increases as a result of labor negotiations during the term of the agreement."
This means that if the County decides to increase retirement benefits for sheriff's deputies and personnel, the city of Lemon Grove won't be responsible for those new costs.
Assuming an estimated increase of 2.5 percent in retirement costs, the following table shows the estimated increases in the City’s Sheriff contract costs over the five-year term of the contract—this assumes no changes to staffing levels and no fiscal impact from the opening of the Rancho San Diego station.Fiscal Year Contract Amount Dollar Increase Percent Increase 2012-13 $4,500,000* $165,000 3.80% 2013-14 $4,800,000 $300,000 6.70% 2014-15 $5,055,000 $255,000 5.30% 2015-16 $5,278,000 $223,000 4.40% 2016-17 $5,519,000 $241,000 4.60%
*this is a negotiate pro-rated amount