Oak Creek to appeal to county for law enforcement help

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What: Routt County commissioners meet with Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen to discuss police vacancies

When: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners' Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave. in Steamboat Springs.

Details: Oak Creek officials are struggling with estimated $200,000 cost of employing two police officers.

— Oak Creek will take its law enforcement woes directly to the Routt County Board of Commissioners at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in hopes of finding a solution to the challenges of funding a police department in the small South Routt town.

The town of about 850 people saw its only police officer resign in May. Town Council members are concerned they cannot afford the $200,000 price tag of employing two police officers as they are confronted with declining property tax revenues.

Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen is expected to make the town’s case before the commissioners Tuesday. Some members of the Town Board are hopeful that in an election year with two of the three commissioner seats up for grabs, a direct appeal to the county might result in some help with law enforcement coverage.

Town Trustee Josh Voorhis said during a June 28 Town Board meeting that he felt a memo from Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins lacked specific information about the commissioners’ thoughts on helping Oak Creek through its funding challenges.

“Maybe we need to have a meeting directly with the Board of County Commissioners,” Voorhis said in June, “and find out truly from the horse’s mouth what they have against the town of Oak Creek.”

Wiggins did, however, offer two options for billing law enforcement services to Oak Creek when his deputies would respond to emergencies and crimes in progress charged at a little more than $50 an hour.

Oak Creek’s current struggles are playing out against the backdrop of a lengthy history of struggling to keep law enforcement officers employed.

Oak Creek voters rejected a sales tax in November 2011 that would have provided additional funds to help pay for police officers.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

"Oak Creek voters rejected a sales tax in November 2011 that would have provided additional funds to help pay for police officers."

That is flat out wrong. It was never claimed enough to pay for multiple officers. It was not even claimed to be enough to hire another full time officer. It was enough to hire a part time officer or a full time officer if enough other funds could be found. That sentence should be corrected to "help pay for a police officer".

Story is also wrong in that Sheriff dept was willing to do more than merely respond to emergencies and crimes in progress. Letter states Sheriff's dept is willing to investigate and provide basically the same services as provided to county residents at their costs of $51 per hour. Sort of odd how OC residents are not considered to also reside in Routt County.

And the article failed to describe the critical change in policy. Sheriff dept previous policy was to provide backup and cover for OCPD for no charge as long as OC had a PD. New policy stated by Sheriff Wiggins in a letter to the Town is that OC will be charged $51 per hour whenever Sheriff's deputies respond to calls in OC even when OC has a police dept.

I think an important fact to put OC's situation in perspective is that there are simply not other Colorado towns with general fund budgets of less than $400K trying to operate their own police depts.

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max huppert 2 years, 4 months ago

Scott, you should find out how much crime has happened in OC in the past year to see if we even need a police dept.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 4 months ago

Max, The issue is not whether OC needs a police dept. One alternative presented by the Sheriff is for OC to not have a police dept.

The issue is how much OC will have to pay the Sheriff dept if Sheriff's dept does the policing or how much OC will still have to pay the Sheriff's dept if OC has a police dept.

Does not require so much crime to have large expenses. A juvenile offender can need to be taken to Grand Junction and that becomes a full day.

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