Blue Lake and sheriff's office reach tentative agreement weeks before deadline – Times-Standard

The city of Blue Lake and the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, facing a deadline at the end of the month, have tentatively agreed on a new contract.

The contract, which has not been finalized, would cost the city about $190,000 in the next fiscal year – an increase from the previous contract's $122,000, which was later increased to $146,000 after recalculation – But the parties still face a significant hurdle to reaching an agreement: Honsal wants the board to pay about $80,000 in payments recently recalculated using a new methodology to determine its operating costs. The current contract expires on June 30.

“We need to look at our costs and make sure we are not giving public funds to another entity. If our costs to provide professional bids and services have increased, then that cost needs to be passed on to the City of Blue Lake,” Honsal said.

Although City Manager Amanda Mager and Mayor Adelene Jones did not respond to interview requests by the Times-Standard's print deadline, Jones' emails corroborate Honsal's statements regarding the tentative contract. On Monday, Jones sent an email to Third District Supervisor Mike Wilson and Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone in which she said the city was ready to move forward with the 2024-25 fiscal year contract – but only the contract.

“The City is fully paid through the date of the new contract and no further payments need to be made,” Jones said in the email.

Following the disagreement over payments, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors settled the issue for its Tuesday meeting, with staff recommending the board side with the sheriff's office and clarify that it does not There was no total contractual cap on the amount the city had to pay the office. based on their previous contract. The issue is listed on the consent calendar, and if the board does not submit it for discussion, it will be adopted without debate.

The council also must approve any final contract between Blue Lake and the sheriff's office, but is unlikely to adopt one before the June 30 deadline, when the current contract ends. However, Honsal said his office will continue to provide its services under contract until July while the deal is finalized. That would change if the deal fell through.

The county is mired in a $12.4 million deficit and the general fund is expected to dry up by the end of the 2025-26 fiscal year at current spending rates, largely because of rising costs of staff. The sheriff's office — which represents a significant portion of the county's budget — is not immune to the problem.

“All of our costs have increased over the last two years. The cost to deputy sheriffs through new contracts, insurance rates, and everything else, has essentially gone up,” Honsal said.

While the Sheriff's Office responds to 911 calls, crime reports or other significant public safety issues in Humboldt County without charging local municipalities, handling issues such as traffic enforcement, crimes, noise and nuisance complaints or even a dedicated deputy requires a contract.

When the sheriff's office recalculates its costs in the spring, they will likely increase again. Honsal said this happens virtually every time his office recalculates costs.

“I'm optimistic. I know that people, the city manager and the mayor, want to prioritize public safety just as much as I do. We may not agree on the numbers, but I think that At the end of the day, we will come to an agreement and we will get to the number that gets this contract across the finish line,” Honsal said.

Blue Lake once had a police department, but it imploded in 2008, disbanded by the city after former chief David Gunderson was arrested and charged with about two dozen spousal rape allegations and 11 others offenses such as battery, violation of a court order and unlawful possession. a submachine gun and a silenced pistol. He was acquitted of rape charges but found guilty of the crimes.

The Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Humboldt County Superior Courthouse and can be followed via Zoom.

Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506

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