Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Steamboat Springs The town of Oak Creek should pay its fair share for police services provided by the Routt County Sheriff's Office last fall, the Routt County Board of Commissioners said Wednesday.
The Sheriff's Office claims it provided about $6,900 worth of services while policing the town between Sept. 5 and Nov. 27, 2002. Oak Creek Mayor Cargo Rodeman is proposing to pay the county $1,087.50.
That amount is not sufficient, the county commissioners said. However, they are proposing a compromise in which the Oak Creek Town Board would pay $5,587.50
"We find the amount of the proposed payment unacceptable as does the sheriff," they wrote in a letter hand delivered to Rodeman during a meeting in the county commissioners' hearing room Wednesday.
On Jan. 7, Rodeman wrote a letter to the county commissioners explaining why the town owes far less than the county is proposing. She claims the Sheriff's Office billed the town for more than five times the hours deputies actually worked in Oak Creek.
"There is a huge discrepancy in what we've being doing and what we feel we owe," she said.
The Sheriff's Office agreed last September to temporarily police Oak Creek after the town lost its police force.
Sheriff John Warner agreed to not bill the town when his deputies responded to reports of violent or potentially violent situations in progress. Under the agreement, the town was charged $50 an hour for all additional services, including office hours held by deputies at Oak Creek Town Hall.
Rodeman calculated 21 hours and 45 minutes of additional services; the county is billing the town for 111 hours and 45 minutes.
The time billed by the Sheriff's Office includes office hours; backup for an arrest by the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team; police presence during homecoming events; and response to reports of two sexual assaults and a series of burglaries.
Some confusion arose over whether Oak Creek was responsible for reimbursing the county for deputies' time spent following up on violent incidents, the county commissioners said. Although commissioners think it is fair for the town to pay for that time, they are willing to exclude it as part of the compromise. The commissioners also said they are not billing Oak Creek for instances when deputies provided general patrol and responded to complaints about disturbances and snowmobilers on town streets, even though they believe it is fair to charge for those services.
The county's proposal calls for significantly less money than what the town owes and what the town would have paid in salary and benefits to its own police force, the county commissioners said.
"It is fair to expect the town to pay for its fair share of those services," their letter reads.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners did not take any public comment Wednesday, although Rodeman did express concern that the Sheriff's Office would not longer respond to calls from Oak Creek now that the town has a police force.
"It's going to be the same now as it has in the past," Warner said. When a call comes in, he said, the dispatch center notifies a supervisor in the Sheriff's Office, and the supervisor decides if a deputy responds to the call.
"I don't think we need to waste a lot of sleep on this," County Commissioner Doug Monger said. "But we do need to do what's fair to all the parties involved."