The San Carlos City Council agreed to outsource police services to
the Sheriff’s Office, ending months of debate over the plan to disband
the department and save the cash-strapped city roughly $2 million
“I’m pretty excited about this,” said Mayor Randy Royce.
The council voted unanimously at a special meeting Thursday
night to accept the five-year agreement with the Sheriff’s Office and
associated employee agreements with unions, management and confidential
units. While the hearing was largely a sign-off — the heavy lifting of
working out details and hearing from the public were done at prior
meetings — some residents did take the final opportunity to share their
opinions on the shift in public safety service.
Police technician Heidi Morrison, flanked by four other
non-sworn employees, thanked the council for making the transition
smooth. While Morrison said they were sad not to continue their
employment with the city, they are “looking forward to new
opportunities” with the county.
Nancy Parker said she and fellow residents aren’t against the
Sheriff’s Office but supports the local police and hopes the council
find the balance between fiscal responsibility and maintaining what the
public has come to expect.
“We’re a small community and we were built on being a family,” she said.
Although some residents once voiced loud concern over the plan —
and in fact two sets of three residents tried and failed to put a
measure before voters to stop outsourcing — last night’s meeting was
largely devoid of the public debate that colored previous discussions
of outsourcing. Although no police officers or representatives of the
Police Officers Association addressed the council, several members have
previously told the Daily Journal they are now behind the concept.
The agreement not only saves every job in the 39-member
department for at least one year but offers raises and the possibility
of mobility within the Sheriff’s Office. Police Chief Greg Rothaus will
likely remain as a captain and bureau chief, and in some instances
programs like DARE and traffic enhancement will be resurrected or
In comparison, the city would have laid off one sworn employee
and one non-sworn if it had opted against outsourcing and adopted
Resident Pat Bell said keeping the staffing level is actually a
bad move because the new In-N-Out Burger planned for San Carlos should
require one or two more officers.
Some department functions, such as records, will be shifted from
the police station in San Carlos City Hall to Redwood City but
Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos said many aspects will remain unchanged,
such as how the council receives reports on police activity.
Jeff Maltbie, administrative services director, said although
the city is outsourcing police services it is not also contracting out
its responsibility or commitment to quality service.
Interestingly, the council’s vote on the contract comes weeks
after it approved a $53.1 million budget that included the assumption
the police services would be contracted out. The budget relies on an
estimated $1.014 million in savings from police services, a pro-rated
amount based on the contract beginning Oct. 31.
After 10 years of cuts, facing a $3.5 million budget deficit and
following the defeat of a half-cent sales tax measure, the council
agreed to outsource its parks and payroll services. Officials also
dissolved the joint powers authority with the city of Belmont to
contract for fire protection, with plans to outsource the service, and
more immediately asked for proposals from law enforcement agencies for
its police department.
The city accepted the Sheriff’s Office proposal earlier this year and has since been hammering out the specifics.
The city will have start-up and one-time costs as it transitions
the department — an estimated $850,000 the first year, with $325,00
already being born by the city, and approximately $150,000 in both the
second and third years.
Councilman Matt Grocott explained last night that the costs are
largely items like uniforms and vacation buyout that had already been
approved rather than new expenses.
Grocott, a vocal opponent of outsourcing, said his approval of
the agreement was based on the soundness of the contract and not now
believing the city should disband the department.
“It doesn’t mean I’ve changed my mind,” he said.
Now that San Carlos has agreed to outsource, some wondered which area jurisdiction will follow.
“We are the first. We will not be the last,” said Councilman Bob Grassilli.
The proposed contract now goes to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for approval. That hearing is expected this month.