Eastvale – The City of Eastvale has been recently discussing the possibility of creating Eastvale’s own Police Department, due to the rising expense of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RSO) contract. The City stated that creating an Eastvale Police Department could save millions per year, improve response times, and increase the number of officers on patrol. In addition, the Council also discussed the possibility of placing a 1% local sales tax on a future ballot.
“With Budget Season upon us, the City Council is given the task of evaluating revenues and expenditures; making sure our residents are provided the services they desire, at a reasonable cost,” said Mayor Todd Rigby in a news release. “One of those services, which we hold in the highest priority in, is our law enforcement services. Our city staff shared with the Council what it could look like to establish our own police department, along with increasing patrol hours.”
Eastvale currently budgets 100 patrol hours of service per day, but are only receiving 90 hours with the RSO contract because the City doesn’t have control over how and when the services are provided. Since the City is only authorized to receive 90 hours per day, Eastvale is about 500 hours short this year. However, if an Eastvale Police Department was created and if the 1% sales tax measure was approved, the City could experience approximately 210 hours of service per day. Without the 1% sales tax increase, the City would experience between 100 to 150 patrol hours per day.
In addition, City staff stated that creating a separate Police Department would increase response times from 7-8 minutes to under 5 minutes. This response time would apply to Priority 1 calls, such as an immediate threat to life or property. Also, the number of sworn officers are expected to increase with a new Police Department. Eastvale currently budgets for 32 sworn officers, but the RSO contract only ensures approximately 29 officers. However, this number will increase to approximately 44 sworn officers in the first year of a new Police Department, and it could grow to 56-60 officers over a four to five-year period if Eastvale voters support a 1% sales tax measure.
“The preliminary results show that creating our own Police Department can save us money, add patrol hours in our city, improve response times, and retain immediate local control of our law enforcement services. We would be foolish as a City Council, and it would be a disservice to our residents, if we did not look further into this option,” said Rigby.
In a Facebook video announcement on March 25, Rigby discussed the rising expense of the RSO contract. “Over the last five years, our law enforcement contract rate has increased by approximately 30%,” said Rigby. The City of Eastvale stated that this increase is currently outpacing regional index cost of living. “This increase is not sustainable,” added Rigby.
The current contract with RSO is $11,825,572, with rising cost predictions, according to the City. The contract with RSO has increased by nearly 75% in the last five years, including patrol hours. In addition, the RSO’s five-year budget projection is estimated at $74,860,000. However, a Police Department 5-year projection is $68,310,000, which would give the City an estimate of $6,550,000 in savings over five years.
Rigby said that the City looked into a feasibility study after they heard that the City of Menifee was experiencing similar issues. When the City of Menifee realized that their contract rate with their Law Enforcement services continued to increase, they decided to conduct a feasibility study then ultimately created their own Police Department. The City of Menifee’s decision prompted the City of Eastvale to do the same. The Eastvale feasibility study was completed for a cost of $10,000 and a peer review was completed for $2,000, which were both approved and authorized by the Eastvale City Manager. A copy of the preliminary draft feasibility study can be viewed at www.eastvaleca.gov under the “What’s New” tab.
The study was presented to the Eastvale City Council on March 13 at the city’s second budget goal-setting workshop for the 19/20 fiscal year. This meeting was public and residents were invited to attend. At this meeting, the council decided to further evaluate the potential of an Eastvale Police Department. The item was discussed again at the Public Safety Commission Meeting on March 26, where residents were asked to give their input.
“This discussion does not in any way reflect our satisfaction with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, our RSO Lieutenant that serves as our Police Chief, or the hard-working women and men who are keeping our city safe every day,” said City Manager Bryan Jones. “They have helped Eastvale become the 12th Safest City in California, along with our Neighborhood Watch Program and other strategic public safety investments,” City Manager Bryan Jones continued. “This is a matter of fiscal responsibility that our residents are counting on. With the rising annual contract costs from RSO, it would be irresponsible of us not to explore this opportunity. There are a lot of factors to consider and we look forward to engaging the community in this process.”
Also discussed at the Public Safety Commission Meeting and the City Council meeting was the possibility of placing a 1% local sales tax on a future ballot. Rigby states that the Police Department and the local sales tax are “two different items that are not dependent or contingent on each other.” However, he says the two items are related in the fact that if Eastvale stays with RSO, the City’s “revenues will not be sufficient in approximately 2025, so we may need additional revenue methods.”
If the City were to consider a local sales tax measure, the generated revenue would stay in Eastvale and serve the residents and businesses. A City news release stated that this could generate an additional $9.5 – 10 million in revenue for the City to enhance services and make strategic investments to grow the City’s revenues with commercial retail and higher value generating land uses.
“We appreciate the residents coming out and engaging in these two items,” said Rigby on April 1 regarding the proposed Police Department and sales tax. “At last week’s Council meeting, the Council directed staff to continue to work closely with our residents and to provide workshops where residents can share their questions, comments, and concerns,” added Rigby. The workshops will be announced via the City’s website and social media pages.
The discussion will also continue at the next City Council Meeting and 1st Hearing Budget Adoption, which will be held on April 24, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Another City Council Meeting and the 2nd Hearing Budget & Adoption will be held on May 22, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Council Chambers located at 12363 Limonite Avenue Suite 910 Eastvale, CA 91752. More information can be found at www.eastvaleca.gov. To access a PDF of the City’s Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Police Department, visit https://www.eastvaleca.gov/home/showdocument?id=12529.