ENCINITAS — City Council unanimously approved a five-year contract with the Sheriff’s Department during the Feb. 20 meeting.
The Council meeting began shortly after news of the Leucadia SWAT standoff broke last week, giving council members a fresh reminder of the services provided by the Sheriff’s Department.
“I think that we owe a great deal of gratitude to our Sheriffs,” Councilman Tony Kranz said.
Encinitas is one of nine cities in San Diego that contracts with the county Sheriff’s Department instead of paying for its own police force.
Bob McSeveny, a senior management analyst with the city, said Encinitas contracts with the county Sheriff’s Department because it’s cheaper to do so.
According to McSeveny, on average, the cities with their own police force spend 36 percent of their general fund on law enforcement services. However, the average is 28 percent for contract cities, and Encinitas is below that with 24 percent.
Law enforcement costs are expected to increase throughout the five-year agreement with the Sheriff’s Department. For this fiscal year, which ends in June, the city will pay $11.4 million. That’s estimated to grow to $12.2 million the following year and rise to $13.9 million by the last year of the contract.
McSeveny said the contract cost is within the projected law enforcement budget in the city’s adopted six-year financial plan.
Additionally, Sheriff’s deputies will be negotiating a new labor agreement with the county in several years. McSeveny said there are protections in the five-year agreement that limit the labor costs can be passed on to contracting cities.
The contract secures the service of 51.5 dedicated officers and 3.5 community officers. And the agreement calls upon Encinitas to share the cost of the facilities of the Encinitas substation, as well as the Sheriff’s captain, two lieutenants and support staff, with other cities.
The Sheriff’s substation in Encinitas also serves Del Mar, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe.
Resident Bob Bonde said Council should green light the contract. But he said the contract is essentially “the same one we’ve had since the beginning.” Thus, he called upon Council to ask for an in-depth study of the contract and “keep the door open” for future negotiations with the Sheriff’s Department.
“Keep the door open and have a cost-benefit analysis done on everything that’s provided,” Bonde said.