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Gridley Herald

Live Oak City Council on Feb. 28

Mar 06, 2024 05:10PM ● By Sharon Pearce

LIVE OAK, CA (MPG) - Much of the Live Oak City Council special session on Feb. 28 was on discussion points that council engaged in at the end of the year about the proposed Sheriff’s contract for police services.

One option is to sign the contract and come back to the table to iron out details that can be added to the contract in an addendum. 

The second option is to authorize a study to determine if the proposed contract does not leave the city with lack of control over its fleet of police cars and city officials not knowing where officers are or how many extra officers might be needed. The City Council could then better determine if more money is needed in the budget for the final contract.

No decision was taken at the session but Councilmember Lakhvir Ghag requested through Zoom that if any of the viewing public wanted to express an opinion on action they wanted taken on the budget, to let the city know by calling 530-695-2122 or emailing at [email protected].

Councilmember Bob Woten asked how much it would cost to just request a detective on an ad hoc basis rather than budget for one and was told $100 per hour. He responded that it was like “buying an extended warranty.”

Councilmember Jeramy Chapdelaine agreed, saying “I am not opposed to this as it is now.” Chapdelaine added the detective, if included in the contract up front, could, when free, jump in a car and patrol or use a motorcycle, and the budget shows a trend of $300,000 but it could go down substantially, making it even more cost effective. For Year One, Chapdelaine suggested, it might be an increase of $150,000 to $200,000.

Having a detective present all the time, Ghag said, would serve as a deterrent to crime, adding that “the Sheriff’s Office does not compensate for cars, fuel and other things.” Ghag said, “It would be nice to have the extra officer available so he could get in his car, but if he is going to be out in the county, we have to take it to our conscience (to deal with anything that happens).”

Vice-Mayor Nancy Santana commented, “I don’t think either of these proposals are good enough for Live Oak.”  Santana added, “I think we need a police presence at the school; at least two on duty at a time. I’m thinking we are going to need our own police station. The sheriff isn’t showing he really wants to work with our city. We need to dig a little deeper, look a little harder.”

Mayor Ashley Hernandez spoke of the Live Oak cars being driven elsewhere.

“We should be reimbursed; we don’t charge for substation, we pay for canine, bikes, equipment. We are at an 88% cost share; it’s 88 1/2 in this contract. The mayor wanted a monthly itemized report. I feel it is disappointing that statistics are showing officers create contacts to jam up bills. I would like to have a consultant assess our true needs, including what the length of the contract should be,” Ghag said. “It would only take one incident, when they are not here, to put this town’s rating into the dirt.”

According to City Manager Aaron Palmer, “…we are not being charged for dispatch for 17 years; that’s a pretty good deal. We could put into the contract that we want the vehicles left here. If they have an accident, they have the liability.

Ghag suggested that there was laxity in letting the council know about incidents to which deputies respond.

Palmer said he would ask that the Sheriff’s Office send the general email on logs “so we can sit down and determine what we need… they would charge us.”

Chapdelaine added, “Our approach needs to be more transparent and more robust and done in a workshop manner. It will take looking at tax increases and other things to determine we cannot afford this anymore as is.”

Santana said she “thought the Live Oak residents would pass a tax increase as it voted to do for all of Sutter County.”

Council members want to engage in a study as the contract is not due until June. While Ghag called out to the public for its opinion, he said, “We need to continue with the current contract until we have a sure method to protect the people of Live Oak. We can end up adding more money.”