County, Holtville Continue Talks Over Police Dept. Takeover

By Mario Conde
The County Board of Supervisors decided to table the item that would have the Sheriff’s Office provide Law Enforcement Services in Holtville at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8th.
Holtville had  requested the Board of Supervisors provide interim Police Chief Services for the City of Holtville in 2006.
The board approved the continued services of an interim Police Chief  as well as the Deputy Sheriffs
Holtville  also requested a  contract with the County for them to provide all law enforcement service for the City for a period of five years.
The proposal  calls for the Sheriff’s Office to provide one  administrative sergeant, five  Sheriff’s deputies and dispatch services for both law enforcement and fire protection.
Sheriff Ray Loera said his department  had a good working relationship with  Holtville and had  been negotiating with City Manager Laura Fischer to take over law enforcement duties.
Board Chairman Wally Leimgruber said that he has heard positive comments about the services the Sheriff’s Office provides there.
County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said that the original agreement for services between the County and Holtville had a price tag of $955,198.00. That, he said, was based on the salary/benefits schedule and hourly rates,  but did not include the expenses for equipment that the Sheriff would use.
Cordova said he made one last analysis of the contract yesterday (Monday, Dec. 7th) and was told by the County Auditor that the first draft did not include the equipment expenses  that elevates the cost  to a $1 million.
Cordova that if this item passes as its requested then it would not be cost neutral for either party.
Holtville City Manager Laura Fischer, who attended the meeting,  said she was surprised by the new number,  but asked the Board to approve the contract with the original amount of $955,198.00. She said the city would track those costs annually and modify the contract cost, if needed.
Holtville Mayor Blanca Padilla, also at the meeting,  said during the three years she has been on the City Council, law enforcement has been a big issue.
She said that for them the details of the contract have been discussed and  they have considered the possible costs that have been quantified.
Holtville Councilman Jerry Bristten said he was  surprised too,  by the last minute change, but asked the Supervisors to approve the contract in order to provide public safety to the people of  Holtville.
Holtville Police Officer Barry Forny  spoke to the Board and said that the City Manager didn’t come to them to keep the department. “They don’t hire new officers just to get us out. The City will have to provide  new cars because the current cars are old  break down a lot.” Forny  said.  He added that the local police officers do not get proper training to be more efficient. He said that the people of Holtville want the Police Department to continue operating.
The County Board decided to table the item in order to have staff meet with the Holtville City Manager and possibly take action next week after the Holtville Council discusses  the changes Monday.