RIVERSIDE – The Board of Supervisors approved Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff’s request to hike the rates charged to cities and other contract entities for the use of patrol deputies.
The rate increase will be retroactive to July 1, 2015, and is needed to recoup higher operational costs incurred by the sheriff’s department over the past year.
Under the revised rate schedule, the cost of a sheriff’s patrol deputy will rise from $149.09 to $160.22 per hour — a 7.46 percent jump from the previous fiscal year. Last year’s rate increase totaled 7.04 percent and prompted an outcry by representatives from five cities, who challenged justification for such a significant hike.
The board approved the increase anyway but vowed a top-to-bottom review of sheriff’s operations to determine where costs might be contained in the future. That led to an audit this winter by Netherlands-based KPMG, a professional services firm that scrutinized multiple components within the agency.
No one spoke out against the hike on today’s board agenda, and none of the supervisors asked sheriff’s officials to address the matter. Last week, the board voted to cover a $25 million shortfall in the sheriff’s budget in the current fiscal year.
KPMG identified a slew of cost reduction opportunities, including accelerating shift transitions to get deputies off the clock faster and turning over more administrative work to civilians instead of tying up sworn personnel with it. Implementing the changes could take several years.
Seventeen cities contract with the sheriff’s department for law enforcement services, as well as several tribes and community services districts.
According to the sheriff, the 7.46 rate increase will allow the department to cover salaries, benefits, equipment and collateral services
associated with the sergeants, clerical staff and other personnel needed to support patrol operations.
The sheriff told the board during a hearing last year that contract cities receive the benefit of helicopter patrols, robbery and homicide investigations, SWAT unit and bomb squad responses without having to foot the bills individually. Contracting entities are further spared the cost of lawsuits stemming from the actions of sheriff’s personnel.
“Every city that contracts with us adds to the workload, and we have to quantify what those costs are so we don’t subsidize them,” Sniff said.
The sheriff’s biggest expense is labor, mainly salaries and benefits.
The board also authorized the sheriff to require 11 cities and three community services districts to pay increased sums for the sheriff’s use of facilities dedicated to servicing the communities.
Sheriff’s officials said the heftier bills generally stem from county Department of Facilities Management costs to maintain stations, including lights, waterworks, landscaping and custodial operations. The sheriff initially carries the expenses, then passes them on to the contracting parties, each of which is invoiced in proportion to how much they consume.
The largest percentage increase in facilities costs will be borne by La Quinta, which faces a $282,309 bill, compared with $260,149 the previous year – an 8.52 percent jump.
The city of Perris will bear the highest facilities fee in dollars and cents: $495,920 – though that’s down from $513,886 the previous fiscal year.