Hesperia Gains Approval to Conduct Public Safety Joint Powers Authority Feasibility Study

By Staff Reports

(HESPERIA)– – The City of Hesperia City Council granted approval to conduct a Public Safety Joint Powers Authority (JPA) feasibility study. This study will evaluate the potential advantages and disadvantages of providing Police and Fire prevention/suppression services through the creation of a JPA with other agencies. Specifically, the study will include a detailed review of the current organization and staffing options, projected annual operating budgets and a cost comparison of public safety services provided through a JPA in contrast to the existing and future costs of the existing San Bernardino County Fire and Sheriff contracts.  If each of the City Councils of the four neighboring cities in the high desert, Hesperia, Adelanto, Apple Valley and Victorville, approve the feasibility study, those cities would govern the JPA.

Over the years, Hesperia has enjoyed the benefit of high caliber service from both the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department and San Bernardino County Fire.  Polices services have been contracted for since the City’s incorporation in 1988 while the contract for Fire prevention/suppression services dates back to 2004.

“The quality of service Hesperia has received from San Bernardino County Sheriff and San Bernardino County Fire Department is second to none,” said Mayor Bill Holland. “The purpose of the feasibility study is to evaluate the options available to us due to escalating contract costs and in no way reflects the professional services provided by our Police and Fire contract staff.”

Over the past several years, the cost of both County contracts has increased dramatically, while staffing levels have seen nominal changes.  For example, since 2004, the Police contract expenditure has increased at a rate of over two times the staffing level increase and constitutes over 60 percent of the City general fund budget. During this same period, the Fire contract expenditure increased at a rate of almost eight times the staffing level increase. For comparison purposes, City of Hesperia personnel costs in the City’s general fund rose by 16 percent over the same period.  The Police contract was further increased last year when the County administrative fee was unexpectedly increased.  In addition, the County may elect to begin charging for services previously provided to the City at no cost, such as helicopter usage. As these costs continue to escalate, and be passed on to contract cities, the City is responsible to evaluate all options available and it is for these reasons that a Joint Powers Authority is being explored.

If approved by each of the City Councils of the neighboring cities, the cost of the feasibility study will be shared.  For the Police component of the study, Hesperia, the Cities of Adelanto and Victorville and the Town of Apple Valley will share the cost.   Because Apple Valley Fire Protection District services the Apple Valley area, the cost of the Fire component of the study will only be shared by Hesperia, Adelanto and Victorville.

At the February 19, 2013 City Council Meeting in Hesperia and Victorville, each of the Councils approved moving forward with the feasibility study.  For more information, please contact Rachel Molina atrmolina@cityofhesperia.us

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