CRA and the Contracts, Part 1

Many citizens have asked about the service contracts that the town ‘CRA’ currently has for the CRA areas and whether the town is going to renew them at the current rate. The main contracts in question are for the lawn service, which includes two contracts and the Sheriff’s department contract for the one officer for a total of 40 hours per week.

Between these two services, the town pays approximately $212,000 per year. That is $112,338 to the Palm Beach Sheriffs’ office and about $102,000 to the lawn service companies. The question that has been asked by many, but not answer is what would it cost for the town to do the lawn service instead of out sourcing it? In addition, has the town looked at hiring a security company as they have for the marina?

For today, lets us start with the Sheriff’s office; if you take the $112,338 and divide it by the hours for the year, it comes out to a fee of $54 per hour for the officer. Of course, with this officer you get the backing of the sheriff’s office if it is required. All the officer has to do is make a call over the radio for the backup and it’s there almost immediately. If they feel for the need of the helicopter, it comes right away.

The downside is that it is costing the $54 per hour for that officer and he is only there for 40 hours per week. With this arrangement, there are days that we have no officer at all. Is this a good idea? I do not think so or at least, that is my opinion. Let us be honest, the crooks know where the police are. If they plan to do something such as rob you, they will most likely have a lookout and know where the officers are.

Now, there has been talked about hiring a private security company such as we have for the marina. Could this be a better option for the town and save money? After all, the town has hired a private security company to patrol the marina at night seven days a week. All this at a far less cost than the sheriffs’ department charges. Does the town get the same service with the private security company?

If you look around the county, you will find that many stores have hired a private security companies instead of hiring the sheriff’s department. Can the store personnel be safer or at least feel safer with this type of security? One would have to assume that they do feel safer because they continue this practice all over. Stores such as Publix, Chick-A-fil, Target, local banks and many more have hired the private security companies for their protection. Even the city of West Palm Beach has security officers that ride around on a golf carts patrolling the area like Clematis and their CRA areas.

You have a choice to hire security officers with or without guns. Naturally, you will feel safer if the officer carriers a gun versus an officer without a gun for protection. Should we ask the question, how does the homeowner feel about a private security company with their officers patrolling around their home? Are they ok with it or would they rather have the Palm Beach County Sheriff department patrol the area? Should homeowners be asked this question since their homes are within the CRA boundary?

Everyone could sit here and list both the pros and the cons of both providing the protection for the town. However, you need to dig a little deeper. Just recently, the Palm Beach County Sheriff just announced an increase in his budget of 7.2 million this coming year. Yes, this might go down from that amount, as it gets closer to the budget time. Most likely, it will not drop much specially with them trying to get more cities converted over to the Sheriff department. As they grow in size, their budget will have to grow in size.

Look at the number of cars alone that they have. Each patrol officer gets a car, which he drives home. How often do you see a sheriff driving their patrol car to Publix or driving their kids to school when they are off duty? Guess what, we pay for the gas, maintenance, etc. for each car. Yes, the office pays a small amount for the gas that they use, but not very much. Most will tell you that it mounts to around $30 dollars per week if that. Cannot really get a straight answer from them since they do not want to give that pert up. Would you not like to have your work pay for your car, maintenance, tires, insurance, etc. plus the big percentage of your gas? I know I would.

Think about how much money could be saved each year if a sheriff officer had to drive his or her own car to and from work every day. In addition, the savings in the maintenance of the sheriff car fleet for everyday repairs would be a lot less. They would only need half the cars compared to what they have now.

So, the question is, can we get the same level of protection with a private security company as we do with the sheriff department and if we can, what would be the cost to do it?