Hartland's Road Patrol Contracts Called Into Question
Hartland Township is currently in contract negotiations with Livingston County over road patrol and full time deputies.
For the past four decades, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department has provided road patrol services with full-time deputies in Hartland and Tyrone Townships but due to rising costs, renewing the contracts, which expire in March, may be in jeopardy.
Livingston County Commissioner Dave Domas, who represents parts of Hartland and all of Tyrone Township, said that the growing population and changing needs of public safety have contributed to an almost 40 percent cost increase that the townships are not used to paying under their current contract.
The current five-year contract is estimated at $152,000 per year per township, according to a story from the Press and Argus.
Renewal of the contacts came under discussion during the Feb. 13 county commission finance meeting and according to the Press and Argus, the committee said the discount offered by the contract was "too much and a five-year contract was too long."
During the summer of 2012, Undersheriff Mike Murphy had been given authorization to start discussions of the new contracts to help establish township budgets, according to Domas, but after a more detailed analysis by the Public Safety Committee, the cost of providing a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week deputy rose considerably.
“The finance committee indicated that it would not budge very much from the numbers that were given but would be amendable to some modifications,” Domas said. “And also talked in terms of, is this something the sheriff’s department can offer.”
With the contract ending in March, Domas says he proposed a one-year contract renewal to give the county and townships an opportunity to “iron out” the details, but says his motion did not pass.
"The townships only got this information two weeks ago and they’ve already prepared their budgets," Domas said. "It’s just irresponsible to think we can jam something through in such a short period of time and do it right.
“I also believe we operate as a partnership, the townships and the county, and over the past 10 years, the two townships have brought in nearly 3 million dollars as their share for putting a deputy on the road,” he said.
Hartland Township Supervisor Bill Fountain says they are currently in negotiations with the county and hopes to have some type of resolution by the end of the month.
"Even if we don’t act on it at our next meeting we would probably work something out with the county on a short term or month-by-month extension until we get something resolved,” Fountain said.
It currently takes the equivalent of 5.8 full time deputies to cover the two townships and Domas says particularly with the high traffic area on M-59, there tends to be a lot of traffic accidents which require a police presence.
If no contract can be reached, however, Domas says residents can expect longer response times from deputies.
“You can also expect non-critical calls will not be responded to as quickly as they would otherwise have been and some complaints will have to be handled online or in person at the sheriff’s department,” Domas said.
Domas says he believes that protecting its citizens is the “first obligation of government” and is opposed to seeing the contract lapse.
“Is it mandated to provide a road patrol?” Domas said. “The answer to that is no, it is not. Now could we conceivably abandon road patrol? Not as long as I’m alive and hold this office. And those who tout that threat are not serving the interests of our community.”