Closing the Talent Police Department and contracting with the Sheriff's Department for law enforcement is one of several cost-cutting measures recommended for the city
TALENT — Closing the Talent Police Department and contracting with the Sheriff's Department for law enforcement is one of several cost-cutting measures recommended for the city in a report by Dale Shaddox, former interim city manager whose services ended Dec. 31. Public works/engineering and the planning department's supervision by contractors also should be scrutinized for possible savings and more hours of service through in-house operations, the six-page letter suggested.
"I'm not making specific recommendations about what they should do," said Shaddox. "I'm just making specific recommendations about what they might do. That's a discussion for the City Council and its citizens."
Shaddox served in local government for 30 years in California and was a city manager in Yreka, Cotati and Hollister. Since he moved to Eagle Point, he has been an interim manager in Brookings, Newport, Phoenix and Shady Cove.
He started working for Talent on July 1.
Tom Corrigan began work as the new city manager Jan. 10. He was formerly manager in Galena, Alaska.
Talent police Chief Mike Moran believes cities should have their own police departments.
"The advantage for Talent specifically is we provide an officer on duty 24/7," said Moran. "We have the same officers on duty, so we get to know the people and the issues of the town very well."
Shaddox wrote in his report that the department has a "neutral to negative relationship with the citizens of Talent," likely because of grants that focused on traffic, pedestrian, seat-belt and drunken-driving enforcement.
"I think we have a great relationship with the majority of Talent residents," Moran said. "We go to every call."
Joe Strahl's Public Works Management firm has supervised city engineering and public works departments since 2003. It was awarded the contract for services in competitive bidding during 2010.
"An advantage to working with us, if the city decides to change directions they can terminate us without any (fallout)," said Strahl. "We hope they don't. We are willing to modify our approach to meet their desires."
Shaddox's report said there is little or no cost savings in contracting versus full-time, in-house supervision, but the latter approach would provide 40-hour-per-week public contact with the departments.
"We shouldn't just let those go year after year without reviewing (the contracts)," said Diane Glendenning, one of several council members who supported reviewing Shaddox's recommendations.
"I would suggest that we put (the report) as an agenda item in a month or so," Glendenning said. "I just think the entire document bears discussion and review. I do think he has some valid points that the council should talk about."
Mayor Bill Cecil believes the new city manager should take the lead on the report.
"I believe the appropriate thing to do is let Tom (Corrigan) digest that and talk to the city staff and make up his mind as to what should be done," Cecil said.
Corrigan said he would form an opinion about the recommendations after meeting with staff and participating in an upcoming mid-year budget review.
"I serve at the pleasure of the council," Corrigan said. "If the council would like to see it, then by all means we will put it on. I'm glad Dale wrote the memo. It gave me a good starting point."
Councilman Chris Auer said he, too, wants to explore the issues.
"I feel like they are all important to look at. I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to do that," said Auer. "The budget meetings are coming up soon, so there's some pressure there if the council wants to make some changes."
A former councilwoman now on the Planning Commission also urged consideration.
"I think (Shaddox) is uniquely qualified to assess the environment and offer his perspective on improvements for the future," said Darby Stricker. "Some of these items are immediate needs. I'd call some of the cost-containment issues 'code one' for evaluation."
Stricker also said the contracts need to be reviewed frequently.
"(Shaddox) makes it really evident to not just look at the definite line item but also all the extras that can go into a contract," Stricker said.
After preparing a similar report for the city of Newport when he ended work there, Shaddox met with the council, budget committee and department heads. He would do the same for Talent, if asked, he said.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.