OCPD goes out of service | SteamboatToday.com

OCPD goes out of service

Town Board makes no decisions for future law enforcement

Melinda Dudley

After last winter's heavy snow damaged the structural integrity of the roof at the Oak Creek Ice Rink, the town is working to fix it in time for this year's hockey season.

Oak Creek’s last remaining police officer had her last patrol shift Friday, but the Town Board has not made any firm plans for future law enforcement.

Policing Oak Creek will fall to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office for the foreseeable future, after part-time Officer Eileen Rossi left the Oak Creek Police Department for the season Friday. Embattled Chief Russ Caterinicchio and Sgt. Erik Foster resigned one month ago today, along with the town’s community service officer.

After lengthy discussions at its meeting Thursday night, the Town Board directed its police commissioners to price out the cost of contracting with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office. The town expects to be in talks with the Sheriff’s Office and the Routt County Board of Commissioners on the matter next week, Mayor J. Elliott said.

“If they want to contract with the Sheriff’s Office, we can work with that,” Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall said. “They just need to decide what they want to do.”

What Oak Creek wants also will have to come in line with what Oak Creek can afford, as the Town Board simultaneously works to put together a balanced budget.

“We’re perennially short on cash,” Elliott said. “We don’t have an airport, we don’t have a ski run.”

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The town’s revenues are more or less on line with predictions for this year, with sales tax down only a few percentage points. But escalating costs, including personnel and liability insurance, mean the Town Board is trying to trim the 2009 budget by about $65,000, Elliott said.

“We have to get a Class B (licensed) water plant operator, and that individual commands quite a salary. How do we pay for that? Things have to be reallocated,” Trustee Dave Ege said. “It’s a real trying situation.”

Personnel costs – including police – are a likely target for cutbacks, Elliott said.

The town will host a work session on the police department at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at Town Hall so residents can weigh in on how to proceed.

“Hopefully with all the great minds in Oak Creek, we can come up with a plan that placates everyone,” Ege said.

Construction

The town also is proceeding with construction projects at the South Routt Community Center and Oak Creek’s hockey rink roof, which was structurally damaged last winter.

“We had such a snow level last year, no one could’ve engineered the building for that,” Elliott said.

The Sierra View Homeowners’ Association donated $1,600 to the project, covering about one-third of an engineering estimate made last month, Town Clerk Karen Halterman said.

Additional repairs will be necessary in the future, but the town’s public works employees should be able to fix the roof well enough to keep the rink open this winter, Halterman said.

The Town Board also signed a contract Thursday night for accessibility improvements to the South Routt Community Center, after receiving supplemental grant funds for the Department of Local Affairs. Representatives of Blue Water Development met with town staff Friday to get the project rolling.

The new second-floor handicapped access ramp and parking to the facility are due to be complete by the end of the year.

– To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com