Public safety JPA study set to move forward
Mar 09, 2013 (Daily Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
VICTOR VALLEY -- Local cities are moving forward with a study to determine the feasibility of creating their own unified police and fire services -- but the concept is still a long way from becoming a reality.
The feasibility study for a public safety joint powers authority would help Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville decide if they can save money as an alternative to contracting with San Bernardino County for fire and sheriff's services.
Now that all four municipalities have approved their participation in the feasibility study with recent city council votes, Hesperia City Manager Mike Podegracz said the next step would be to issue requests for proposals to qualified consulting firms.
"This is in the process of being prepared," Podegracz said. "They will respond with proposals, and then the city managers will evaluate them."
Podegracz said the city managers will go to their various councils to request approval to hire the qualified consultant by May or June. The final cost to the cities for the study will not be known until the city managers receive the proposals, Podegracz said.
Some Adelanto council members expressed concern about the estimated $200,000 cost for the study once they realized that the city's share would be the same as the bigger cities, approximately $50,000.
"I've had many talks with the other mayors of the High Desert, and they're all feeling the same pain," Adelanto Mayor Cari Thomas said at the meeting. "Though I agree wholeheartedly that $50,000 is a big number, at some point that cost is going to outweigh all the other rising costs."
Podegracz said no one is on the hook for paying for the study just yet.
"We still need to bring the proposals to the respected councils," he said. "At that point, it will be decided then whether or not the cities will participate."
The next step would be for the city managers to receive authority to spend the money to hire the consultant.
Funding to form the JPA itself would be paid by each city, Podegracz said. The study will determine how much each city will pay to participate in the JPA, he said.
One option could be based on the level of service needed in each city, he said.
The study will compare the potential costs of JPA public safety services to existing and future costs of the contracts with the San Bernardino County Fire Department and Sheriff's Department.
Jim E. Winburn can be reached at JWinburn@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-955-5368.
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