JOHN DAY – Officials are nearing agreement on a contract to have the John Day Police Department take on police patrols and duties in Prairie City.
The John Day City Council was expected to consider a draft intergovernmental agreement for law enforcement Tuesday, in a meeting past presstime. City Manager Peggy Gray has recommended the council approve the deal, giving her authority to sign the contract.
In her report to the council, she noted that she, Police Chief Richard Gray, and Dispatch Manager Valerie Luttrell have negotiated the terms over the past couple of months with Prairie City Mayor Gary Waterhouse and Councilor Carole Garrison.
“We feel confident that we can provide the level of police services that Prairie City requires,” the city manager wrote.
She said last week she felt the arrangement would be a good match, providing needed police service to Prairie City while also helping the City of John Day maintain a fourth patrol officer position.
Waterhouse also was pleased with the way the talks have been progressing, and he sees it as an “excellent solution” for both cities. He said the Prairie City council has agreed to the arrangement “in concept.”
He said if the John Day Council decides to move forward, he’ll present the agreement to the Prairie City Council for final approval, either at the first regular meeting in February or in a special meeting.
The draft agreement sets an initial term from Feb. 1 to June 30, 2015. Gray said that gives the two cities a little over a year to see how things work.
Under the agreement, John Day Police would agree to patrol no less than 40 hours per week. Fines and revenues from enforcing the city’s codes would go to Prairie City, which would pay John Day hourly for services at an estimated $79,104 per year. The contract also spells out costs for extra or emergency hours and $600 a month for fuel and vehicle costs.
Either party could terminate the deal with 90 days notice, but only for cause during the initial term.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office had been under contract to serve Prairie City, but the arrangement ran into differing expectations and short staffing.
County Judge Scott Myers said Friday the county agreed to sever its agreement after staff vacancies made it difficult to ensure the patrols sought by Prairie City.
He said the new arrangement between the two cities sounds like a positive step for them, and Sheriff Glenn Palmer concurred.
Palmer said his department currently has one deputy sidelined by injury, and a vacancy has only recently been filled.
“With this level of staffing, I can’t cover the whole county and Prairie City, too,” he said.