New law enforcement agreement guarantees hours, not Gibson’s employment

by Peter Jakey-Managing Editor

Onaway city manager Joe Hefele provided details of a potential agreement with the Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Department (PICSD)  regarding law enforcement patrols within the city.

Hefele told the city commission he met with sheriff Bob Paschke and undersheriff Joe Brewbaker May 1 about a scenario whereby the sheriff’s office would guarantee the city 16 hours of nighttime patrol per week at a cost of $25,000 per year. That equates to an average of 2.5 hours per night.

A motion was made and approved to have city staff continue working toward a final agreement. It still has to be approved by the county board of commissioners and come back before the city commissioners.

“The sheriff made it clear that he is not interested in an any agreement that would force him to hire a specific person,” stated Hefele in his manager’s report. When negotiations started a few months ago, the city tried to get Onaway police chief Jim Gibson rolled into the sheriff’s department as a deputy. His employment with the city ended, April 30.

A memo on the door of the Onaway Police Department (OPD) building states: “Effective May 1, 2013, law enforcement services are no longer available.”

The sheriff’s department would provide routine investigations and patrol in addition to nighttime coverage.

The city would continue to make the OPD building available to the sheriff’s deputies. The building cost, including utilities and property insurance, is approximately $5,000 a year.

The total cost to the city would be approximately $30,000 per year, which is $45,000 to $50,000 less than what the city had been spending on the one-man OPD. He said  it would go a long way to plugging the large general fund budget deficit caused by an $80,000 reduction in property tax revenue and revenue sharing.

“Whatever we end up agreeing to is probably going to take effect July 1, which is the beginning of (county’s) fiscal year,” said Hefele. “There is a little time left to get this done.”

The sheriff’s department is currently patrolling Onaway.

“Onaway will be patrolled by PICSD similar to the patrol received by other county residents,” stated Hefele.

In the meantime, proposed new recall petition language went before the Presque Isle County Election Commission Thursday (past press time) in Rogers City.

Petition sponsor Judy Shaloy has presented revised recall petition language. City officials targeted for recall include mayor Gary Wregglesworth, and commissioners Jessie Horrocks and Chuck Abshagen.

Shaloy removed language that the election commission objected to last month, which ultimately led to the rejection of the petitions.