JAMESTOWN - Savings of up to $7 million over five years could be realized if the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office merged with the Jamestown Police Department.
According to the report "Modeling Options for a Consolidated Law Enforcement Agency," which was prepared for the city of Jamestown and Chautauqua County, a merger is possible with no increased costs to the county and savings for the city. The consolidation study, released Satur-day, lays out options for organizational consolidation models, how to implement those models and cost estimates.
The consolidation report suggests several options for consolidating, which it classifies as ranging from "less aggressive to more aggressive."
"The least aggressive option is functional shared services. This involves looking within each operation and determining if certain services could be provided by one or the other entity and then entering into agreement to make it happen, while still retaining two separate agencies," the report says. "The most aggressive option of a full consolidation that would result in all functions being combined under the leadership of one agency or department."
Based on the findings of the original study by the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the consolidation report suggests that either a shared services agreement or a local merger would be feasible.
In the case of a shared services agreement between the Jamestown Police Department and Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, the two entities would remain separate, but pursue consolidation of common back-office or support functions. The local merger would combine the two into a single law enforcement agency.
The report explored considerations and questions for four different models. The first model allowed both agencies to function separately, continuing to be funded by city and county taxpayers. This option would allow the two to collaborate on an as-needed basis.
The second model would be for a local merger, which would integrate Jamestown police into the sheriff's office. For this, City Council would need to vote to eliminate the Jamestown Police Department. Additionally, the county would agree to add deputies in order to ensure adequate police coverage in Jamestown. The second model also has three organizational models that would be possible.
The third model to consider suggests having metro police serving the entire county. It could encompass all current municipal operations and provide coverage to the entire county.
Finally, the fourth model does not involve an operational merger. Rather, it focuses on a shared provision of common services within the two entities, including detectives, K-9 and more.
CONSOLIDATION IMPLEMENTATION MODELS & COST
Along with each possible organizational model comes possible ways to implement it. Regardless of which model is chosen, the consolidation report gives only three general options.
The first option would be to establish a cut over date for the transition to take effect. According to the report, this is the fastest way to achieve a complete merger. However, the transitional costs and costs to even out the pay scale and benefits could be high.
The next option would be a phase out method. In this case, officers in the Jamestown Police Department would remain city employees until they retire. New hires and replacements for retired JPD officers would be members of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office.
Finally, there is a hybrid method suggested. Some JPD officers would be transitioned into the sheriff's office, while others would be allowed to retire from the city. According to the consolidation report, this model may alleviate some of the work conflicts resulting from blending the two departments.
The report provides several tables demonstrating the estimates of cost for each potential consolidation and implementation model.
Although personnel costs are the most significant cost driver in the potential consolidation, there are also several other cost considerations listed in the consolidation report. For example, JPD officers work four days on, two days off. Mean-while, sheriff's office depu-ties work five days on with two days off. Sheriff's dep-uties are on duty for 261 days a year, and off duty for 104. JPD officers work 244 days a year and have 121 off.
"Using salary estimates ... CGR estimates that the value of 17 days of paid time off over the careers of the full roster of current JPD officers is equal to about $2.4m," the report says. "This would likely be a one-time negotiable transition cost associated with a consolidation process."
Other considerations outlined include healthcare costs and non-personnel costs relating to additional capital, equipment and contractual costs.
Regardless of the path chosen, the consolidation report spells out savings in the millions for the City of Jamestown and Chautauqua County.
As it operates right now, the next five years would cost the city approximately $32.6 million in personnel costs and $33.8 million overall if no consolidation or merger takes place, according to the report.
"The maximum savings potential is available in a consolidation with the CCSO implemented with a cut over date and salaries leveled down to the current CCSO levels," the report says. "Over five years this would lead to a savings of $5.2m for the City of Jamestown."
The report also states that an additional $1.8 million could be saved over the course of five years if there is a reduction of four officers overall, which would be possible by switching from a four-on, two-off schedule to a five-on, two-off schedule.
"In total, $7.0m in savings relative to the status quo represents a high range of cost savings potential over five years in a consolidation of the two law enforcement agencies," the report says.
However, the consolidation report also gives the low end of savings, which would be made by phasing out existing officers through retirement, while bringing salaries up to current Jamestown Police Department levels. In this case, over five years the savings would be $200,000 over the course of five years. By switching to the five-on, two-off schedule on top of this, an additional amount could be saved, bringing the total to roughly $600,000.
"The consolidation method and implementation process that are chosen are the most significant factors in determining potential cost savings that could be generated by consolidation," the report says.