WENATCHEE — That’s Cashmere and Leavenworth satisfied, Chelan and Entiat still on deck.
The two Upper Valley cities have approved new contracts for sheriff’s protection with Chelan County, two months after both threatened to drop the agreements over escalating prices and form their own police departments.
Leavenworth will pay about $460,000 for the equivalent of three full-time officers assigned to its town in 2014, after the city council unanimously agreed to the contract Tuesday night. Cashmere accepted the sheriff’s contract offer at its June 24 city council meeting, agreeing to pay about $383,000 for the equivalent of two and a half full-time officers in 2014.
Chelan and Entiat, two other towns without police departments which similarly faced rising costs for law enforcement, will hear proposals from Sheriff Brian Burnett later this week and next week respectively.
Chelan County Commissioner Keith Goehner said Tuesday the new contracts reduce the per-deputy cost to cities by about $2,000 each, to about $153,240, and build in a reasonable, yearly cost-escalation factor so cities are better able to budget.
“The key thing we were hopeful for was to come up with a formula that would prove consistent for future negotiations,” Goehner said.
Small Chelan County towns have struggled with rising police costs. In 2010, Leavenworth paid about $381,000 for sheriff’s services. This year it will pay about $454,000. In the same period, Cashmere has seen its sheriff’s patrol costs go from $372,000 to $466,000, Entiat from $74,880 to $93,000 and Chelan from $858,700 to almost $984,000.
The costs got so high, Leavenworth began advertising to hire its own police chief. Burnett forwarded the city a $467,00 offer in June, with a 4 percent yearly cap over three years. Leavenworth countered with an offer of $452,000 for the first year of a four-year contract, again with a 4 percent annual cap thereafter.
“I’m very happy with a four-year contract,” Burnett said Wednesday. “That gives me another year I don’t have to mess with it.”
The deal also ensures a deputy will be on duty in Leavenworth 80 percent of his or her work time — a measure the city insisted on.
“The other piece for us was having an officer that could be kind of the face of the sheriff’s department presence in Leavenworth, or of Leavenworth public safety,” said City Administrator Joel Walinski. “We’ve accomplished that too.”
Cashmere’s contract likewise scales up by 4 percent each year. It also calls for a sheriff’s satellite office at Cashmere’s city hall. The interlocal agreement passed unanimously, with Mayor Jeff Gomes calling it an improvement over the $503,000 the city was originally asked to pay in 2014.
World staff writer Christine Pratt contributed to this report.