SL shakeup examined

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:04 PM

In an effort to arrest rising costs, Village of Spring Lake and City of Ferrysburg officials are considering consolidating police services with the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety or the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Village Manager Chris Burns said she did not want to disclose potential costs or savings until she has contract proposals from both entities in hand, which could be soon.

Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger said costs could run between $700,000 and $800,000 a year.

The Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department’s current annual budget is a little more than $1 million, with the city paying 54 percent and the village paying 46 percent, based on service calls. The current intergovernmental agreement between the two municipalities expires June 30.

Both the Village Council and City Council would need to approve any collaborative contractual agreement with either Grand Haven or the county. Burns said she expects a decision at the April 21 Village Council meeting, and implementation would make sense prior to July 1, which is the start of the next fiscal year.

Although consolidation is not a certainty and there are still many details to discuss, Burns said it would be more cost-effective than continuing a union contract with police personnel that expires in 2018.

“The decision is not already made (to consolidate) because it has to be a joint decision between the two councils,” Burns said. “That being said, the reality is the option of renegotiating the union contract is unlikely because the cost savings isn’t there.”

Previously, municipal management tried other measures to slice police department spending, including limiting vehicle idling and overtime pay.

“The officers came up with some good suggestions to cut costs, but those savings are not nearly as great as going with Ottawa County or Grand Haven,” Burns said.

The manager said both Sheriff’s Department and Grand Haven public safety officials have verbally stated that all current full-time Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police officers would be offered positions in their respective departments.

The Sheriff’s Department indicated officers would remain in the village unless they chose to bid for a different location, according to Burns, and part-time officers would be offered positions as well.

“I don’t have the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety proposal yet that would define where the officers would be placed or how the precincts would be divided up,” Burns said.

Under such an arrangement, the officers would wear uniforms of the contracted department, she said, possibly with vehicles marked “Serving the communities of Spring Lake/Ferrysburg.”

Burns said the village’s contribution to running the current police department is its single largest expenditure.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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