SL shakeup examined

The police chief is gone and the police department may be next.
Marie Havenga
Mar 7, 2014


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.



This should of been done years ago when GVSU did a study and examined the cost savings by the smaller departments contracting services with the sheriff department. I believe it has worked very well with the City of Coopersville along with the City of Hudsonville. I'm not sure how the City of Ferrysburg pays more then the village. I hardly see a patrol car on the Ferrysburg city streets except on US-31 running radar. I certainly feel you will get more for the dollar from the professional staff at the Ottawa County Sheriff Department.


You have no idea what you are talking about! Did the study say contract with OCS, I do not think so. Read the study again newspaper lawyer. The study recommended to Regionalize, that would be form a Tri Cities Police Department. Do you really think that the deputies working Coopersville and Hudsonville stay in their towns all the time? I really truly doubt it. For your comment about US 31 and radar is incorrect also. You really should read the GVSU study again. Or maybe someone could read it for you !

Barry Soetoro

Drive 31 north of the bridge much?


Regional??? that means do away with smaller man departments yes and contracting services. I'm not sure how one gets police authority without being deputized by the sheriff to enforce state laws outside of the police agencies jurisdiction. Yes I have read the study many times years ago when Chief Robert Huff through a huge issue over the results..... Cause he wanted to be the big cheese. Goodsheperd unless you really know what your talking about stay in your lane.


Your statement "I certainly feel you will get more for your dollar from th professional staff at the Ottawa County Sheriff Department" shows your lack of understanding and respect for local Police Departments. I can assure the residents and taxpayers that the training and educational requirements for the Officers of the Village and City of Ferrysburg was or is within the guidence and requirements of the State. I hope that more voices will be heard from the residents of the Village of Spring Lake, the decisions that are being made today, must be that of the Village Council. Not that of one person, we can either face our challenges today, or we should surrender to our fears and desolve into the Township. Are we ready for that, do we give up and forget all the history and positive things we have accomplished as a Village, do we loose our idenity, our heritage. What ever that decision must be, or will be, it must be that of the people, not that of one person.


As long as we're at it, let' disband the Village administration also and consolidate that with Grand Haven. THEN we'd really be saving.


Zegota, you hit the nail on the head. When Mr. Filber has concerns - and voices them - people need to listen. He is a measured thinker, and very dedicated to SL. Give up your identity, and watch how quickly your government becomes more distant and less resident-driven.


The problem with going with OCS you lose your local control. OCS will provide you with what ever you want to hear to get their foot in the door. After it is a done deal, 4 years down the road, how much will the Village pay? Whatever OCS tells them. It will be too expensive to go back and form the department again. If OCS can do it so much cheaper, I would like to see the numbers. What is the Village going to lose? The dedicated officers will be the ones that suffer, starting all over again at the bottom. The tax payers already pay for OCS in their taxes so really OCS should not charge the Village a dime. Why doesn't Grand Haven, Holland and Zeeland go with OCS? Maybe they can save all those communities lots of money too. They all pay County taxes for OCS. I won't even start on Ferrysburg, how much money they saved since the Police Merger in 1989 ? They pay more of the budget for the first time and they want to jump ship and lose local control too. I hope the Council in Ferrysburg is smarter than the Village Council. Time will tell!


Yes I agree we as tax payers already pay county taxes... But lets not forget that we also pay for the Michigan State Police which they have basically closed down the Grand Haven Post. You thing for one minute that the City of Coopersville and Hudsonville have lost control over police services. I highly doubt it in fact several years ago the City of Zeeland also looked at contracting. But like everything else in Zeeland they pay way too much tax for public safety services. Maybe one should check with cities to see how happy they are with the police services. I believe if SL village wants certain officers to stay in that area they will make it happen.


Wow our city manager is a Babe.


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