Pomona to Keep Own Police Force
After nearly four months of debate, the City Council voted this week not to contract with the county for police services.
The plan, which was expected to save nearly $2.5 million for this financially strapped city, was rejected unanimously.
No action was taken Monday on proposals that the county consider assuming responsibility for fire and library services for the city. Studies on the feasibility of such a takeover are under way.
Mayor G. Stanton Selby said that he objected to the loss of local law enforcement control particularly when the service would have emanated from a Sheriff’s Department substation in Walnut.
“We must be careful we’re not placing barriers between the citizens and responsive local government,” agreed Councilwoman Donna Smith.
Nymeyer Was Disappointed
However, Councilman Mark Nymeyer said that he was disappointed that the county’s feasibility study, which was completed April 4, was so easily rejected.
“I was less than pleased that we discussed the county study so quickly and that we resolved that the county could not come into our town so easily,” he said.
Nymeyer also warned that the council may have to consider an assessment district.
"(An assessment district) for next year is impossible,” Nymeyer said. “For the following fiscal year it’s possible. But there’s just not enough time (for the coming fiscal year).”
The demise of the contracting option means Pomona officials must keep searching for a way out of their budget dilemma. The budget shortfall came to light in July when the council, after facing an angry throng of Pomona residents, backed down from a plan to impose a citywide assessment for street repairs and tree trimming.
City officials had hoped that the assessment district would fill a $1.3-million gap in this year’s budget.
The contracting recommendation was one of several made by a council-appointed advisory panel in a report on the city’s financial predicament, which is expected to lead to a $2.5-million to $3.5-million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
Under the current $36.5-million budget, the city spends $12.6 million for police protection, $8.9 million for fire services, and $1.5 million for the library.
Two months ago, after county Chief Administrative Officer James Hankla had learned of the city’s request, he told City Administrator Ora Lampman in a letter that he would recommend against contracting with the city unless the county could recover the “full cost” of providing services. But he said in his Feb. 10 letter that “state law prevents the counties from fully recovering the total cost of providing contract services to cities.”
The state law in question is known as the Gonsalves Bill, named for its sponsor, Joe Gonsalves, who served in the Assembly from 1962 to 1974.
The bill, which took effect in 1974, was designed expressly to stop Los Angeles County from charging contract cities for certain administrative functions needed countywide.
An association of contract cities, according to its current executive director, complained before the bill was passed that contract cities were paying at least some of the costs of maintaining elevators in county buildings and part of the salaries of the Board of Supervisors. Under the government bill, only costs directly related to providing service to cities, such as new sheriff’s substations or patrol cars, can be passed on to the cities.
Law Doesn’t Allow Recovery
The law, Hankla said, does not allow the county to recover “certain of those costs related to managing the fiscal operation of the entire county, of which the individual contracting agency is part.” He listed his own office, that of the county auditor controller and the office of the treasurer and tax collector as costs that cannot be directly charged to cities.
Hankla indicated that he believes the county should be permited to recover such costs because they are a necessary part of providing the services.
He also said in the letter that Los Angeles County faces a $180-million shortfall in its 1986-87 budget. “In light of this, I must inform you that without full cost recovery, I cannot recommend any expansion of the county’s contract services program,” the letter said.