Saugatuck Leaders To Ask Residents Their Thoughts On Police Coverage; City Review Under Way
As was recently announced, one of the objectives of the City of Saugatuck for the upcoming year is a review of its inter-governmental agreement with neighbor City of Douglas relative to police services and costs.
“The big question for us is: does the community want 24-hour public protection or does the community want a different approach? Are there other important issues at hand?” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told The Local Observer Tuesday.
In a communique released June 22, 2015, just before the beginning of the fiscal year 2015/2016, Saugatuck officials announced its two goals regarding public safety:
“The city will send a survey to city property owners to determine what level of police services are desired by taxpayers. The city will also engage professional assistance to carefully review and update or revise the current police contract.”
The city contracts the services of the Saugatuck-Douglas Police Department through Douglas, which administers the agency.
Costs for public safety totaled $945,260 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015 (fiscal year cycle begins in July).
The inter-government contract stipulates each municipality pay half of that cost, which usually accounts anywhere between a third to a quarter of the cities’ budget expenses.
Besides paying to have a police presence in its boundaries, Saugatuck also pays overhead expenses associated with the police department, which came to $35,000 last fiscal year, down from $50,000 in previous years, according to Saugatuck City Treasurer Bob Drexler.
There is nothing particularly wrong with the police contract itself, but, as indicated by Harrier, “We want to make sure the inter-government agreement is correct with the current times. It hasn’t been updated in a long time.”
At present, both Saugatuck and Douglas have one full-time officer each for 24-hour coverage. Additional police officers are used on the weekends and holidays during the summer tourist season.
Saugatuck, for example, has two additional part-time officers patrolling streets and one at the Saugatuck Oval Beach during the tourist season.
The police department accounts for seven full-time officers, and anywhere between three and four part-time officers. Full-time officers work in 12-hours shifts.