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Costs rise for town police department

Darin Olde, Sierra Sun

To go from renting a police department to buying your own, you need money. The Town of Truckee is beginning to find out just how much.

As the Truckee Police Department gets closer to the Sept. 1 operation deadline, the formation is getting more expensive.

Initial, one-time start-up estimates were anticipated at $1.35 million. That figure will likely jump to $2 million with additional remodeling costs.

The estimated cost for contract services with the county for Nevada County Sheriff’s Offices services during 2001/2002 was $2,966,720. The estimated operational cost for Truckee Police Department was $3,041,148, a difference of approximately $74,000, according to the Lewis-McCrary Partners report, the guide produced by the town’s police consultants.

While the operational cost may not change much, several capital expenditures have gone over the town’s estimation. Fears that the cost will continue to increase have been expressed by Town Council.

“Because of timing it is necessary to do this without bids,” said Mayor Don McCormack, referring to the purchase of radio equipment for 11 police vehicles in a Town Council meeting May 3. “Any time something is done without bids there is a potential of not getting the best price.”

But Dan Boon, the town’s police chief, felt fortunate for the deal, especially given the time constraints.

The vendor, Delta Wireless, was the successful low bidder for the State of Nevada and the city of Grass Valley in recent deals for similar equipment.

Delta Wireless currently provides similar services with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, and – perhaps most attractive – the town “can legally piggy-back on both of Delta’s current competitive bids with the City of Grass Valley and the State of Nevada,” wrote Boon in a staff report.

“We are under the gun as far as the timeline goes,” Boon added during the council meeting May 3, “but we are very fortunate. By doing it this way we have one vendor accountable for service and products … They are a very reputable firm.”

The current fiscal budget for the equipment identified $175,325 for the purchase of the equipment. The town’s final cost: $227,040.

The council chose to make up the difference using state grants for law enforcement equipment programs.

“I’m sure everyone knows I was the original supporter of going to a police department,” said council member Bob Drake. “This is absolutely an appropriate thing to do. The fact that costs are high is not a surprise.”

Drake went on to say that he feels the county has deliberately chosen not to cooperate.

“I – unfortunately – anticipate that a lack of cooperation will continue … (and) that this may continue to cost more money,” he said.

Mayor Don McCormack said, “I’m not a lot more optimistic than you are that we will be successful, but we certainly haven’t given up on that. We’ll end up with a much better situation if in the end we can work out something between Placer and Nevada counties and the Truckee Police Department.”

Boon said Drake’s comments at the meeting were appropriate given the circumstances at that time.

“It’s not the easiest of negotiations,” he said.

Meanwhile, negotiations with the county continue over the jail and dispatch center, but they aren’t likely to change plans by the police department to move into Town Hall.

The town budgeted $503,000 for the remodel of the existing substation, if it was available, or for the remodel of Town Hall. The price to remodel Town Hall has since jumped to over $1 million, announced Boon May 3.

Authorizing the final architectural services will be considered in a Town Council meeting tonight.

“Unfortunately, I think prices, just because of the industry itself, have gone up,” said Boon. “We’ve done everything we can to keep that at a minimum … We are keeping things at a modest – I mean very modest – level for these improvements.”

The cost for the interior space, estimated at $100 per square foot, amounts to $760,000.

Originally the town planned covered parking for 16 vehicles, but reduced the number to nine to keep costs down.

“The Lewis-McCrary report was supposed to include conservative estimates,” said councilwoman Maia Schneider. “How much more can we expect?”

Schneider reiterated that the investments would likely be dumped into a temporary facility, because many on the town staff feel the department and town offices will move back closer to the center of town eventually. The money for improvements could be lost unless they are advantageous to the future owners, she said.

“We are trying to keep upgrades from being too specialized so the building won’t lose market value,” said Boon. “Some things may even enhance marketability were we to vacate.”

“It’s a higher number – no question,” added Stephen L. Wright, the town manager. “But some of it will get a return to the community.”

Council member Josh Susman said that according to his queries only 10 percent or less of the remodel work will be so specialized they won’t add to the building’s asset value.

“We’re investing in our own building – the public’s building,” said Susman. “So the numbers are a little smaller, and I think the gross numbers are a little bit dramatic.”

But the town still has to secure dispatch, booking facilities and equipment related to transportation. The cost for those expenditures has yet to be determined.

The town has options, said Wright from Town Hall Tuesday.

“There is talk of a police department reserve fund,” he said. “The council may decide to build something like that into the reserve fund for the next fiscal year.”

The council will review the budget in the next few weeks and may consider $190,000 that could reallocated to the department.

Overall, Wright said the department formation is on schedule and has stayed within a reasonable budget.

Over the next few years a regional jail facility has been identified as a potential long-term goal. The cost has not been determined. Nor has a shared agreement with the county.

Regardless, underlying the Truckee Police Department formation is a belief in its net asset value and equity. The town is no longer renting a police force: it has taken the slow more difficult approach of building its own.


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