Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia & Victorville Mull Joint PD & FD

(March 15) VICTOR VALLEY—Cities in the High Desert have resurrected a more-than-20-year-old proposal to unify their police and fire services.
When first brought up in 1991, the concept extended to the town of Apple Valley and the cities of Hesperia and Victorville, all three of which contracted with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement services. Adelanto was not considered because it then had its own police force.
At that time, then-Victorville mayor Terry Caldwell endorsed the idea, as did then-Hesperia mayor Percy Bakker and then-Hesperia councilman Mike Lampignano, and then-Apple Valley mayor Kathy Davis and then-Apple Valley councilman Nick DePrisco. The creation of the joint powers authority to form  a public safety cooperative never fully manifested, however.
In 2002, the city of Adelanto dissolved its police department and contracted with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement services.
In recent months, a dialogue has developed among Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville officials about undertaking a study to determine the feasibility of creating unified police and fire services under the aegis of a public safety joint powers authority involving all four municipalities.
Late last month, the Adelanto City Council consented to put up as much as $50,000 to cover the estimated $200,000 cost of such a study. Previously, officials in Hesperia, Victorville and Apple Valley appropriated their share of that study cost. A few residents have expressed skepticism over the efficacy of such an expenditure and some have suggested the cities and town could farm the study out to existing staff members, including city managers and finance directors, to complete the study at no cost.
In Adelanto, the city at present pays the sheriff’s department $4,511,459 annually for  law enforcement services and allots another $100,000 per year for overtime, on-call  and other law enforcement-related expenses and $65,000 for sheriff’s vehicle maintenance for a total law enforcement budget of $4,706,459.  For the $4,706,459, Adelanto is provided with a part time lieutenant, three sergeants, two detectives, 15 full time  officers, one part time officer, two sheriff’s service specialists, four clerical workers and a motor pool assistant who devotes 40 percent of his work week to Adelanto.
Under its contract with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, Adelanto pays $3,117,634 per year for a force that consists of one battalion chief, six fire captains, six engineers, six firefighter/paramedics and one paid call firefighter.
Apple Valley is now paying $10.7 million directly to the county sheriff to provide a 71-employee presence of both sworn and non-sworn personnel, vehicles, radio and dispatch, computers and equipment and a county administrative fee, augmented with another $553,251 separate from the county contract for support services to the sheriff’s contingent.
The Apple Valley Fire Protection District is an entity that is independent from the town.
Hesperia pays $12,174,790 million for police service through its $11,463,162 contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and another $711,628 for augmenting that service with vehicle fuel and maintenance.
Hesperia expends $8,253,243 annually on fire service, including a contract with the San Bernardino County Fire Department and maintaining the vehicles and facilities of  the Hesperia Fire Protection District.
In Victorville, the city is paying $18,523,78 to the sheriff’s department under its contract with them and another  $893,536 in outside contract expenses for a total of $19,417,318 to maintain law enforcement services.
Victorville’s budget for its fire department, which is also a division of the county fire department, is  $13,643,541.
The study would determine if the cities could save money and perhaps enhance services by pooling their financial resources and creating a valleywide public safety district with police and fire divisions, and terminating their contracts with the fire and sheriff’s departments of San Bernardino County.  Last year the county increased the administrative fees for the sheriff contracts from 3 to 5 percent. Additionally, the county’s chief executive officer, Greg Devereaux, has said the county is considering charging contract cities for equipment usage and services that have not been charged for in the past.

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