Washington County’s proposed policing contract arrives in Forest Lake
The contract law enforcement proposal requested by the Forest Lake Personnel Committee from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in January was sent to the city April 4. The Forest Lake City Council discussed the proposal timeline at its April 10 meeting and set a date for a public open house on the topic for April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Forest Lake City Center.
The proposal, prepared under the supervision of outgoing Washington County Sheriff William Hutton, answers some questions community members have had about what police coverage in the city could look like under county supervision rather than the Forest Lake Police Department, but other details, including how the transition would take place and exactly how much cost differential exists between the proposal and the current police budget, remain unclear.
The proposal estimated that the total adjusted cost to the city for sheriff’s office law enforcement service in 2018 to be approximately $2.9 million, plus about $87,600 in one-time implementation costs. In 2017, the city budgeted approximately $4.04 million for police services, but the actual levy impact is estimated as closer to $3.2 million because several of the costs of the department are reimbursed by items like police state aid or the Forest Lake Area Schools’ contract for school resource officers. City staff told The Times that further analysis is being done to determine exactly how much cost difference there is between the proposal and the city’s current spending, as there are factors in the city’s current spending that may be unaccounted for in the proposal and which may shift the total cost differential.
“There’s things that will reduce that number and things that will increase it,” City Administrator Aaron Parrish said.