5/11/2018 11:15:00 AM LAPD contract hurdles being cleared amicably
The Lakes Area Police joint powers agreement that’s been under review for months, is nearing the final draft. It appears the police services for Lindstrom and Chisago City have been defined and there is an understanding of “base” service and the cities are adding tools to re-calculate cost sharing in the future.
In a special meeting last week Lindstrom City Council discussed proposed wording developed by a negotiating sub-committee and by Chisago City. The special meeting was needed because at the regular Lindstrom Council meeting April 19-- there was not a majority vote to add the agreement as an item then.
Both cities set a goal to have something to present for the May session of the Lakes Area Police Commission. The existing five-year contract for operating the police department expires in June.
Lakes Area Police Dept. was formed 15 years ago when both cities cooperatively dissolved their independent police departments and merged everything. They designed a new logo, the chiefs mutually divided leadership duties, and the main offices were set-up at Lindstrom City Hall, with the impound lot now in Chisago City and a small office at Chisago. LAPD Chief Kevin Stenson retired about a year ago and the department is now headed by Chief Bill Schlumbohm.
In recent years, LAPD call numbers have become less equitable between the two cities. Chisago City territory and population grew at an accelerated pace compared to Lindstrom’s over the years, due to annexing Wyoming Township.
Lindstrom Council formally requested the police commission to start the process of revising the joint powers agreement which had required splitting LAPD costs 50-50 since the merger.
Acting on wording that has gone through Chisago City, the vote at last week’s special session was 4-1 with Lindstrom Council member David Waldoch opposed.
Waldoch called the revisions “window dressing” and was disappointed negotiations haven’t brought the changes he’s hoped for in how cost-sharing between the two cities is calculated.
Waldoch also said the way he reads the revisions, if the contract is severed (there’s a notice clause to cancel) the instigating city is on the hook for all remaining years’ as a penalty. But, others thought notice to cancel carries liability for expenses just in the year the department is in at the time.
The new agreement is going to be in effect for 12 years, so Waldoch was concerned pulling-out could mean a massive penalty.
The agreement still needs to be reviewed by Lindstrom City Attorney Soren Mattick and Tom Miller or Vince Stevens for Chisago City, so this will be clarified. Both city councils will have to adopt the final joint powers text as well.
The 12 years for the contract is a compromise.
Chisago City sought a 20-year expiration, four times the contract life now. In early sub-committee meetings Lindstrom supported going to 10 years.
Council member Waldoch explained his preference for shorter lifespan saying it motivates frequent review of the police budget and operations.
Lindstrom Council member Curt Flug responded that future councils still have the ability to approve an annual police budget or not. “If they are doing their job,” Flug said there are plenty of opportunities for elected officials to control the LAPD expenses.
Mayor Keith Carlson added, the wording moving forward, “...handles the costs of services in a fair manner.”
Council member Kevin Stenson said 12 years is a good compromise and “...that’s what negotiating is all about.”
Council member AnnMarie Brink supported the revisions as “giving direction for the future” and she liked that the chief will have more input in the cost-sharing process.
The wording approved last week, which still must be embraced by the four-member Lakes Area Police Commission:
~ Calls for a “base” service level of eight and one third officers covered 50-50 by the cities. (The one-third is the school resource officer whose costs are shared with the Chisago Lakes School District.) And, call counts to school facilities in either city are disallowed in tallying calls.
~ This base includes two each of command level personnel and fulltime administrative clerks, and a CSO and a transcriptionist, and one fulltime detective. ~ The trigger to consider adding personnel is at 625 calls per patrol officer, per year.
~ The police commission will expect the city where excessive calls are generated to cover costs for expanding personnel. On top of the 625 and over trigger the demand has to be 10 percent greater in one city over the other, for the expense liability to be effective. This will be based on data averaged over three years and starts in 2019.