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City of DC, Butler County Board sign one-year agreement

City of DC, Butler County Board sign one-year agreement

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Butler County Board of Supervisors

Sheriff Tom Dion, right, and Deputy Michael Mejstrik, left, speak with members of the Butler County Board of Supervisors at one of its August meetings.

After months of negotiations, the City Council of David City and Butler County Board of Supervisors signed a one-year law enforcement contract.

The contract lays out the terms for the services the Butler County Sheriff's Office will provide for the City of David City in the coming year.

The Sheriff's Office has performed law enforcement for David City since the city dissolved its police force in 2012.

Over the summer, negotiations between the city and county began for an overhaul of the contract between them.

“Of course we had the negotiations but I feel like as a whole, the contract is pretty much the same as we had before. Maybe a couple of changes but nothing that we can’t work with,” Sheriff Tom Dion said. 

As Dion said, the contract remains mostly unchanged, but there are a few new additions.

Namely, several quality assurance measures.

David City has long had a problem with nuisance abatement. Part of addressing that problem requires county sheriff's deputies to be at the city's disposal for enforcement action.

"It's up to the sheriff to decide how he uses his deputies and where he directs their time," City Administrator Clayton Keller said. "The city expects so many hours per week of them being in David City, doing things for the City of David City."

The new contract and other past iterations have outlined the minimum number of manhours to be spent in David City. That number — 120 hours — has not changed.

The new contract is different, however, in requiring the sheriff to submit a report to the city by the 10th of each month detailing average dispatch call response times over the last month.

According to the contract, the response time for at least 80% of the calls should be 15 minutes or less.

Keller said the contract also establishes a law enforcement committee with members from the city and county.

Keller, First Ward City Council Member Jessica Betzen-Miller and Third Ward City Council Member Bruce Meysenburg will represent the city on the committee.

"We've already selected our committee members. The county supervisors haven't taken office and they won't until next month. So they'll choose their committee members next month and then we can start meeting," Keller said.

The committee, which will also include the sheriff, will meet every three months.

Additionally, the new contract differs from the old by making a change to how the city compensates the Sheriff's Office for expenses.

The annual amount paid to the county by the city for the law enforcement services of the Sheriff’s Office has only increased slightly. The sum, split into 12 monthly payments, was $279,698. In the new contract, it’s $282,588.80.

In the past, the city has also covered the cost of a new vehicle for the Sheriff's Office every other year. Instead, the new contract has the city making an additional annual payment of $15,000 to the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office may then use those funds to cover various equipment costs.

Keller confirmed that the lump sum payment will, over time, average out to about the same cost as the biennial vehicle purchase.

The contract is good in perpetuity, but if the city or county wants to revisit it and make adjustments, the contract outlines an opportunity to do that every year.

Keller credited County Attorney Julie Reiter for that addition.

"It automatically renews each year unless one party tells the other before July 1 that they want to renegotiate," Keller said.

Dion said he feels good about the negotiations that took place over the course of the year.

“I think we’ve worked well hand-in-hand with David City,” Dion said.

Keller echoed that sentiment.

“I’m pretty happy with the way the county was willing to work with us,” Keller said. “We asked a lot of hard questions and they were willing to help walk us through them and we appreciated that.”

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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