Mount Clemens approves new sheriff, dispatch contracts
MOUNT CLEMENS — Ever since the City of Mount Clemens voted to do away with their own police force in 2005, the city it has been contracting with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department for law-enforcement services.
And on Dec. 17, the City Commission approved in a 4-2 vote their latest three-year contract for policing services at a cost of $7.2 million. The commission also approved a three-year contract with the department for dispatch services at a cost of $1.2 million, or $416,000 a year. The contracts are from Jan. 1, 2013, until Dec. 31, 2015.
But despite a thorough presentation by Macomb County Finance Director Pete Provenzano, City Commissioner Joe Rheker was not impressed and voted against both contracts, arguing that spending more or the same for services that many residents are not happy with isn’t a wise move.
“We’re paying more in services, while we have other municipal workers that we take away from,” Rheker said, referring to how the city is looking for further concessions from its workforce to balance the budget. “I’m not comfortable with it.”
Provenzano said, while the dispatch services reflect a 10 percent increase from the last contract, the law enforcement contract for one sergeant and 16 deputies per shift 24 hours a day, along with support services like the detective bureau and marine patrol, is a slight decrease from $2.5 million a year the last round to $2.4 million a year until the end of 2015.
The extra cost for dispatch, Provenzano explained, is due to “overhead and ancillary services” or insurance, supplies and administration that the county had failed to bill Mount Clemens for in the past.
“We’re not looking to make a profit, but we do have to cover our costs,” Provenzano said.
Regardless, Rheker said he feels the commission needs more time to look more closely at the contract.
“We’re getting this in the 11th hour,” he said. “I would like to discuss it more and understand the whole process more. It’s not good management, it’s not good stewardship and it’s not professional to have a contract of this magnitude thrust upon us.”
Rheker said he works closely with the Neighborhood Watch program near his home, and has listened to residents’ concerns that the streets just aren’t being patrolled enough and how some big changes are wanted.
“We need police services, but I can’t say across the board that the level of satisfaction is there — that I can blindly go back to my constituents and say we really delved into this,” he said.
Mount Clemens disbanded its own 26-officer police force seven years ago. At the time, it was costing the city $3.5 million a year, and changing to the Sheriff’s Office saved the city close to $1 million.
Commissioner Ron Campbell also voted against the new law enforcement and dispatch contracts, though he didn’t explain why, while Commissioner Matthew Dreger disagreed with Rheker, explaining that recent crime statistics have shown that non-assaultive crimes are down 23 percent during the same time last year, and assaultive crimes are down 11 percent.
“At the end of this contract in 2015, we will be paying nearly the exact same cost we were paying in 2009, so a six-year … flat fee for the same service is probably uncontainable in any governmental agency today,” Dreger said.
Mayor Barb Dempsey was excused from the city’s final meeting of the year, due to an illness.