INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- The idea of Indian Rocks Beach being policed by Largo was torpedoed last week with Steve Stanton, city manager of Largo, launching the torpedo.
Stanton told John Coffey, IRB city manager, in a letter that the way costs are computed would not be to Indian Rocks Beach's advantage and he advised the city to continue its relationship with the Sheriff's Office.
According to Stanton there are two ways of computing costs. The Sheriff's Office uses a "marginal-cost methodology" that Stanton said had inequities.
Because Largo would use a "full-cost methodology," the price for police service would be about $950,000 a year, Stanton said in his October 13 letter.
"Therefore," Stanton wrote, "the Sheriff's proposal is more advantageous to the City of Indian Rocks Beach from a budgetary perspective."
The Sheriff's Office has policed Indian Rocks Beach for 11 years, since the city got rid of its own police force amidst charges and intimations of corruption and misbehavior.
Soon after Coffey took over as city manager, succeeding Tom Brobeil who is now the city manager in Gulfport, he began exploring the idea of other options with policing.
Those options are limited, both in terms of availability and cost. Nearby Belleair Beach came up at one point more than a year ago, but Mayor Bob DiNicola kissed off that department as "keystone kops."
Under the current budget, the Sheriff's Office is charging IRB $675,000 for police services and that includes a 10.5 percent increase over the 2004 budget cost.
The Sheriff's Office cost to Indian Rocks Beach in the upcoming year is up 10.05 percent, bringing the price to $675,000, in round figures.
Stanton's letter was backed up by some comparison graphs, some of which drifted into Rube Goldberg-like demonstrations which would have meaning only to a financial genius from the Wharton School of Finance.
Per capita cost of policing in Indian Rocks Beach is very favorable to the city. Using a low figure of 4,000 population (it goes to about double that in the winter season) it costs $168 a person to police the city.
Largo's costs are about $235 per person. Belleair Beach, never in the running, pays about $340 per capita for its police costs -- probably the highest in the country. Bellair Beach, with a population of only 1,600, has a police budget of $560,000, almost as much as IRB pays the Sheriff's Office.
Before Stanton came up with his figures, the Clearwater Gazette & Beach Views reported in August that Largo's estimated cost for policing Indian Rocks Beach would be about $940,000. Stanton's $950,000 figure is very close to that August estimate.
When the deal with Largo was being explored Sheriff Everett S. Rice showed up at Indian Rocks Beach to discuss his costs and delivery of service.
At that time he told a reporter after the July 27 meeting, "Why would Largo want to come in here? To make money? I can't think of any other reason."
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