RIVERSIDE – The Board of Supervisors tomorrow will considerRiverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff’s request to hike the rates charged to cities and other contract entities for the use of patrol deputies – a move bound to be unpopular with the sheriff’s clients.
The proposed rate increase would be retroactive to July 1, 2015, and is needed to recoup higher operational costs incurred by the sheriff’s department over the past year, according to Sniff.
Under the revised rate schedule, the cost of a sheriff’s patrol deputy would rise from $149.09 to $160.22 per hour – a 7.46 percent jump from the previous fiscal year. Last year’s rate hike totaled 7.04 percent and prompted an outcry by representatives from five cities, who challenged the justification for such a significant upward adjustment.
Officials from Indian Wells, Lake Elsinore, Moreno Valley, Palm Desert and Temecula protested to the board that law enforcement expenses were draining their budgets and should be reined in.
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 by Netherlands-based KPMG, a professional services firm that scrutinized multiple components within the agency.
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 typing up sworn personnel with it. Implementing the changes could take several years.
It’s unknown which municipalities will send representatives to address the board Tuesday. 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 supervisors, 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 is also expected to decide tomorrow whether 11 cities and three community services districts will be required 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 would be borne by La Quinta, which faces a $282,309 bill, compared with $260,149 the previous year – a jump of 8.52 percent.
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.