John Day City Manager Nick Green presented four recommendations to deal with the financial difficulties facing the city’s police department in a memo to the city council.
First, police staffing should remain at the current level of three full-time officers with paid reserves beginning July 1. This would reduce the coverage level from the 2.6 officers per 1,000 residents to two and provide a $110,000 cost reduction.
Second, notice should be given to Prairie City that because of reduced staffing, John Day would no longer provide them with contract police services. John Day would continue to support the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police according to mutual aid agreements.
Third, police scheduling changes would need to be negotiated with the Grant County Peace Officers Association and coordinated with the sheriff’s office and state police.
Fourth, the city should evaluate the operational effectiveness of the smaller three-person department through 2018 and 2019 and explore the possibility of converting to a Department of Public Safety by shifting the emphasis from traditional law enforcement toward a broader public safety focus.
Green also provided an update on the transition of the city’s 911 center to one of three options being explored by a 911 Task Force with representatives from the city, county, Blue Mountain Hospital, Grant County Fire Defense Board and the Forest Service.
An engineer from Day Wireless made a site assessment and concluded that contracting with Frontier Regional 911 in Condon or forming a joint center with Harney County were technically viable options, Green said.
Harney County was still interested in discussing a joint center with Grant County, Green said, but they were not interested in relocating here. Harney County was already in talks with the Forest Service about creating a joint center, which would need new equipment and a new location, he said.
The 911 Task Force created a cost model that would charge $10 per call for local user agencies and $25 per call for ambulance. The balance of the 911 center’s cost would be paid by cities and the county based on assessed property taxes. According to this model, Grant County would pay 58 percent, John Day 22 percent, Blue Mountain Hospital 8 percent and the county’s small towns 11 percent, Green said.
In the event there is a staff reduction at John Day’s 911 center, a severance package would be negotiated with the Grant County Peace Officers Association. To avoid disruptions to current 911 center staff, Green called for agreeing on a transition option by April.
The 911 User Board, comprised of 17 users such as cities and agencies, will further discuss options at a March 20 meeting.