By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – New contracts for police and ambulance services were approved Monday, Sept. 24, by the Howard village board.
With 2018 being the final year of the current contract between the village and the Brown County Sheriff’s Department for police services, board members agreed to a new three-year contract with the county from 2019-21.
Village Administrator Paul Evert noted the new agreement would provide the same level of service provided in 2018, which includes having a patrol officer 24 hours a day year-round, another patrol officer 16 hours a day year-round and three direct enforcement officers.
“We provide patrol vehicles,” Evert said. “We provide vehicles to the direct enforcement officers. They say village of Howard on it, but they’re all staffed by the sheriff’s department.”
Evert said the contract with the county is “a very effective way for us to police our village.”
“We’re also lucky that we don’t need more law enforcement in our village,” he said. “It’s a good thing, needless to say. A lot of places our size probably have three patrol officers 24/7/365, in addition to other supervising officers.”
Trustee Ray Suennen noted a Wisconsin Policy Forum publication, Municipal Facts 2018, reported the village in 2016 had the lowest per capita policing cost at $88 for municipalities in the state with populations between 17,500 and 30,000.
“It appears that we’re getting a relatively efficient and economical deal with the current process,” Suennen said.
Evert said Howard also benefits by having the sheriff’s department housed by the village as a precinct.
“We have a lot more squad presence driving around the village, and people realize it’s not all working for us, but I think it’s helpful as a deterrent,” he said.
Under the new contract, Evert said three investigators are being added to the sheriff’s department, one in each of the next three years.
“I support the idea of adding the investigators,” he said. “I know they had a ton of overtime in the last couple of years.”
Based on the formula to compute the total costs for police services, which would total $5,163,608 for the three years, the cost each year would come to $1,654,775 for 2019, $1,720,496 in 2020 and $1,788,337 for 2012.
Overtime would be billed separately on a quarterly basis.
Board members also agreed to a new five-year contract for ambulance services with County Rescue for 2019-23.
During 2018, Evert noted the village is paying $147,893 to County Rescue, from which the village is also receiving rent of $77,893, resulting in a net expense of $70,000 to provide paramedic-level service and putting Howard as one of the lowest per capita spenders in the state for an ambulance service of that level.
The new contract freezes the cost to the village and the rent paid under the lease as they exist in 2018 for an annual net expense of $70,000.
“We’ve been lucky to have paramedic-level service through a contracted service provider that we’re happy with,” Evert said. “What’s unusual about it, though, at the end of the day our actual net expense is about $70,000 a year to provide it.”
Evert said it would be more expensive for the village to have its own ambulance service.
“You can still provide an excellent service doing it yourself, but as long as we have County Rescue to do it, I think it’s a great deal for our taxpayers,” he said.
Fire Chief Don Phillips said the number of people that come to the fire department with an interest in medical services exceeds the number of people who come there for fire services.
“We do concentrate on providing medical training to all of our personnel…,” Phillips said.