Contract approved

Marquette Township Board to maintain current police patrol levels

Marquette Township Supervisor Lyn Durant listens as Township Clerk Randy Ritari outlines budget procedure related to a law enforcement contract with the Marquette County Sheriff's Office during the Marquette Township Board meeting on Tuesday. MCSO will be contracted for 80 patrol hours per week according to Tuesday's decision. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Sheriff’s Office police coverage in Marquette Township will remain at 80 hours per week for at least the next six months.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Marquette Township Board approved a motion to enter into the contract with the sheriff’s office despite approving a 2018 budget allocation in December for 60 hours per week at a cost of $146,392.

The proposed expenditure for 80 patrol hours per week in 2018 was originally estimated at $195,189, though cost-saving measures proposed by the sheriff’s office at the Dec. 19 meeting dropped that expense by $12,907.

Under those measures, the township will save $4,507 by remaining at the 2017 hourly rate and $8,400 in originally planned overtime patrols on holidays, township Manager Randy Girard said.

The sheriff’s office is also changing its patrol activity to provide coverage using a regular patrol vehicle versus one the township had supplied, Girard said.

He said reducing patrol mileage will defer the vehicle replacement cost of $19,675 from the 2019 budget cycle to 2020 and 2021.

Girard said additional savings are expected within the six-month time frame.

“They are requesting the option to remain at 80 hours through at least June 30,” Girard said, “at which time they will come back to you to demonstrate any savings that they have been able to come up with on behalf of the township.”

Township Supervisor Lyn Durant said after lengthy consideration and feedback from residents, she would like to see patrol levels remain at 80 hours per week.

“I have thought long and hard about it over the last couple of weeks,” Durant said. “That’s one of the things we asked for was more patrols. We want them going up and down through Trowbridge (Park) and all the subdivisions so that they’re visible; that’s a big part of it.”

The board instructed Girard to work with the sheriff’s office to define language contained in the agreement going forward.

Trustee David Wiegand said he had several questions about the law enforcement contract, primarily concerning overtime, after obtaining the 2017 and 2018 versions from Girard.

“Apparently the officer bids to work in the township for the year, and that’s their schedule,” Wiegand said. “But when he goes on vacation, we have to pay for the guy that replaces him — and because they don’t add personnel, we pay time and a half for that, when he is gone … That’s two officers, three weeks each that we are paying time and a half for. It seems to be a scheduling issue for the sheriff’s department. It doesn’t seem like something we should be paying overtime for.”

Wiegand also expressed concern about the time that township patrol officers spend assisting other agencies beyond township boundaries.

“Why don’t we get credit for the time he is out of the township?” Wiegand asked. “It only makes sense, we are paying for 80 hours per week. I understand why he left, but I don’t understand why we don’t get credit for it.”

Girard said the same type of contract had been renewed each year for the last 16 years with previous sheriff’s office administrators.

“There were parts of it that were never really formalized,” Girard told the board. “Now you have a totally new administration in the sheriff’s department and it’s probably time to address some of those specifics for our sake and for theirs.”

Township Clerk Randy Ritari said budget amendments related to the contract can be made later in the year to adjust for the change.

“We are just approving a dollar amount right now … because when we get to six months we might see some changes, which might help the bottom line,” Ritari said.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is