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AV OKs unification study

The Apple Valley Town Council moved one step closer to joining with other Victor Valley cities to create a regional path for law enforcement and fire services.

During Tuesday's meeting, the council unanimously voted to move forward with a Public Safety Joint Powers Authority feasibility study to examine the economic impact of uniting with other municipalities for the public services.

“Hesperia led the charge and I think it's advisable that we get on board with the other contract cities,” Town Manager Frank Robinson said.

Robinson said the Apple Valley Fire Protection District, which has served the community since 1951, would be part of the equation as the town moves forward.

According to a staff report, the driving issue behind the study and the JPA is not the quality or level of police services provided by the county, but the rising administrative fees associated with the county contract. That’s the same concern of neighboring cities.

On Feb. 12, Hesperia and Victorville voted to approve the JPA study, with the city of Adelanto slated to discuss the agenda item Wednesday.

Since its incorporation in 1988, the town has contracted with the county of San Bernardino for police services, which includes sheriff’s personnel, vehicles and equipment for law enforcement services at a level determined each year by the Town Council.

By contracting with the county for these services, the county has shouldered the burden of all liability and costs related to the performance of duties of its employees.

In Fiscal Year 2012-13, the council approved a law enforcement staffing level of 71 county personnel. The county contract amount of $10.7 million covers salary and benefits for the sheriff’s personnel, costs for 36 county-owned vehicles, radios and dispatch services, and the county administrative fee.

The town also budgets approximately $553,251 separately from the county contract for vehicle fuel and maintenance, office supplies, CAL-ID identification system, training and education, and facility maintenance.

The cities of Hesperia, Victorville and Adelanto also contract for police services.

Last year, the administrative fee for the sheriff contract was increased from the original 3 to 5 percent, with the county indicating that it may begin charging contract cities for services not charged for in the past.

Town officials believe there are many benefits to contracting for police services; however, the continual increases in costs are placing enormous pressure on the general fund operating budget.

County contract salaries, benefits, administrative fees and other operating costs are generally outside the control of the town.

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at (760) 951-6227 or at RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com.

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