A new police contract could save New Carlisle more than $46,000 a year after officials discovered a discrepancy involving deputy salaries and benefits.
But City Manager Randy Bridge said those who think New Carlisle overpaid for police protection in past years should move forward, and Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said the city has received “one heck of a bang for their buck.”
Officials revised language in a previously approved contract that had the city paying for four Clark County deputies with top salaries and benefit packages, but salaries and benefits for the deputies assigned to the city are less than the top amount.
Bridge discovered the issue, told council members they cannot seek a refund if the same problem had occurred in previous contracts and encouraged officials to move forward.
Sheriff Gene Kelly said his office has contracted with New Carlisle for 36 years. He said contracts with the city must include the maximum salary and benefits for the deputy positions because of union requirements and in the event a deputy at the “top step” wants the job.
The modified contract could save the city $46,000 to $47,000 this year, if current deputy contracts and benefits remain the same, Bridge said.
“I think it’s a win-win for the city all the way around. We’ve got the four deputies back like we promised, and we’ve started out with a nice healthy savings,” said Mayor Mike Lowrey.
Lowrey added that he’s concerned the city may have paid for higher tiered deputies in previous years, but he and former Mayor Lowell McGlothin added that the sheriff’s office does not charge the city for many services provided and that nothing can be done about previous contracts.
However, Councilman Ethan Reynolds requested previous contacts be reviewed to determine if the city was overcharged or overpaid for deputies and, if so, how much.
“I think its the principle of the matter to see how much we’ve lost,” Reynolds said.
Kelly was offended by the implication that New Carlisle has been overcharged or had overpaid for deputies in years past, adding that their contracts have been “more than fair.”
“Overpayment is not true,” Kelly said. “… I don’t think the council members understand fully what they get.”
Reynolds said the city and the sheriff have a great partnership and thanked the sheriff and the city manager for their work on the new contact. But he blamed the former New Carlisle city manager for problems with previous contracts.
“My disappointment in the fact that we were overcharged wasn’t with the sheriff, but with our former city manager for not asking the questions,” Reynolds said. “I just want to know how much we overpaid, and then it would take the council as a whole to decide what we want to do with it. We signed the contract. That was our fault. I just want to know how much we overpaid and how much money we lost.”
New Carlisle’s $397,417 contract pays for four deputies per year at the top tier salaries and benefits and includes a $1,200 council meeting fee.
But the revised contract calls for the city to be billed monthly based on the deputies assigned to the city during that period and their current salaries and benefits. The contract also requires the city to pay full overtime costs, instead of just 4 percent as in previous years.
Moorefield Twp.’s contract with the sheriff’s office has had similar revisions.
Kelly said New Carlisle pays a reduced amount on administrative fees and receives many services for free such as dispatching, deputy training, detectives, DARE or placing prisoners from the area in the county jail.
“The city of New Carlisle is getting one heck of a bargain,” Kelly said. “If the council members are looking and saying, ‘For years we’re paying top step,’ even if they were they were still getting a great bargain because they don’t have the headaches. They don’t have all of the additional costs that goes with maintaining a police department.”
He said sheriff’s officials are working on a report outlining the services New Carlisle gets free of charge.
“I’m doing everything humanly possible that I know of to provide the top quality service at the most cost-effective way, and I don’t know of any other way to provide these services,” Kelly said.
Councilman Bill McIntire and other members praised Bridge for his work on the contract and acknowledged the city is not charged for many services.
But McIntire said the idea that the city has been overpaying for deputies was “incredibly frustrating.”
“We’re the ones that voted to sign the contract, and so that falls on all of our shoulders,” McIntire said.
“It’s something, frankly, we should have looked and asked about beforehand. It’s everyone’s fault. It’s my fault. It’s everyone’s fault that we didn’t do our due diligence or … we didn’t ensure that the cost was where it should be. We trusted that it was. It was an oversight. Hopefully we can do better here on out.”
Councilman Rick Lowrey agreed.
He said he was pleased with the new contract and acknowledged that he and other council members were not aware of the different “steps” or pay levels of deputies.
“What’s gone is gone,” Rick Lowrey said. “We can all take the blame for that and say ‘Hey, we didn’t look at it good enough.’ Somebody didn’t look at it good enough. It was a contract and we signed it. But we were definitely taken advantage of.”
“If you take all of those costs and you compare them to what they’re really getting, they’re getting one heck of a bang for their buck. In 2016, it’s going to be the bare bones, but their getting top quality people, fully trained, and they don’t get them until they’re ready to go,” Kelly said.