Commissioners table renewing agreement with East Carbon City
An ongoing public safety situation in East Carbon and Sunnyside has spilled over into the Carbon County Commission chambers.
On June 18, County Attorney Gene Strate approached the commission about an expired law enforcement contract with East Carbon City.
Under the expired contractual agreement, the city's police department had handled emergency calls in unincorporated areas in the eastern portion of the county.
"The contract I have in my hand ran from 1999 to 2000," indicated Strate. "It has expired, yet the county continues to pay East Carbon and they are still providing services. Should we put together a new contact?"
But the commissioners were hesitant to pull the trigger on a new contract until the police situation between East Carbon and Sunnyside has stabilized.
According to county officials, East Carbon sent a letter to Sunnyside in the spring requesting $50,000 per year for contract police service. Sunnyside has not operated a city police force and East Carbon has provided law enforcement services for a few thousand dollars annually.
After receiving the letter from East Carbon, Sunnyside officials decided to start a city police department. The police force will be manned by part-time officers and, most likely, a part-time chief.
Sunnyside plans to start providing the law enforcement services on July 1.
"The money that we have been paying has been going to both cities," stated Commissioner Mike Milovich. "I'm not sure we want to keep paying this while this is all going on."
The other commissioners agreed and wondered if any money had been paid to East Carbon in 2003 per the defunct contract.
County Clerk Bob Pero advised the lawmakers that he did not know off hand, but said he would check into the matter.
Other officials and staff in attendance at the regular county commission meeting thought the $22,000 per year was divided and paid quarterly. If the total had been divided into fourths, at least one payment had been made for 2003.
In addition to the county clerk, the commissioners requested input from Carbon Sheriff James Cordova regarding the situation.
"I think we will have to work with the new Sunnyside police department to have the city provide unincorporated coverage as well," noted Cordova. "Last year, East Carbon only responded to a few calls outside its and Sunnyside's city limits."
The sheriff's office acts as a backup to the East Carbon law enforcement agency should an emergency or criminal incident occur where the local police department cannot respond.
The county sheriff's office may also have to provide similar services for Sunnyside's police department.
"These ongoing differences between the two cities needs to be settled sometime," stated Commissioner Bill Krompel. "I would just like to see it resolved."
Following the discussion, the governing branch of Carbon County decided to table the matter of renewing the law enforcement contract with the city.
Acting on unrelated agenda item, the lawmakers agreed to make a onetime payment of approximately $100 to the employees at the Carbon Children's Justice Center.
The bonus money is derived from funding the justice center receives, which is pass through revenues for the county.
Even though the employees at the center are technically considered county employees, county officials explain that they are paid directly with state funds.
According to justice center director Terry Willis, the 2002-2003 revenues from the state remain in the budget because plans were to have less money than transpired.
The proposal to give the onetime payment to the employees came to light when given the fact that the money, if not spent would be returned to the state.
Some concern arose that the payment would be inconsistent with what other county employees got for the year, but commissioners were reminded that regular county workers received a raise last year, while the center, based on the projected budget received none.
As it turned out however, some salary money remained because of conservative planning.
"I think this is a legitimate request," stated commissioner Steve Burge. "They became county employees but didn't get the raise. I don't see this as special treatment. I would rather see it benefit them than go back to the state."
The county commission also appointed several new members to the transient room tax advisory board. The panel had dropped to only three members.
It was decided to increase the number of members on the board to reflect the makeup of the community in a more complete manner.
Effective June 18, the transient room tax advisory board will consists of 11 members.
The individuals named to the panel include Woody Carter, chairperson Pam Miller, Nick Tatton, Dawn Bentley, Sylvia Fasso, Tom LaRoche, Ken Larson, Jim Mars, Layne Miller, Kathleen Royster and Mark Stuckenschneider.