Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bridgeport schedules town hall to address law enforcement funding

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BRIDGEPORT – A town hall meeting has been approved for 7 p.m., Thursday, March 14, in the Bridgeport Elementary gym to gather public input about future law enforcement services for the city. The city council voted to schedule the event at its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Mayor Sergio Orozco said he would ask Douglas County Sheriff Kevin Morris to be present to answer questions from the public. The city is investigating options for a new contract that it can afford for law enforcement protection.

At the end of 2023, Douglas County Sheriff Kevin Morris advised every city that contracts with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services that a recalculation of those costs was going up. The new contracts are too high for small cities like Bridgeport to pay. The issue has prompted a scramble for those cities to find alternatives that they can afford. 

Orozco and city clerk/treasurer Judy Brown, together with other representatives of other Douglas County cities, met with the County Commissioners on Feb. 6 to discuss the dilemma many are having to secure affordable law enforcement coverage.

“They were under the impression that the cities didn’t want the help,” said Brown.

Once the commissioners learned that cities like Bridgeport, Waterville, Mansfield, and others want law enforcement coverage but cannot afford to pay the higher costs of the new contracts, the discussion became more productive toward finding a solution.

Both Orozco and Brown said the meeting was informative because it exposed the commissioners to details involving contract components, cost calculations, negotiations with the sheriff, and much more that had escaped their attention.

The commissioners would like to hear more public feedback so town hall meetings like the one Bridgeport scheduled in March are being held to provide that component.

  • The council voted to purchase a sewer inspection camera system. Superintendent of Public Works Stuart Dezellem secured three bids for a system to fit the city’s needs. He received bids ranging from a high of $81,674 to a low of $47,880 from Inspect AI. The city had earlier budgeted $75,000 in sewer reserve funds to purchase a setup and approved Dezellem’s recommendation to acquire the Inspection AI unit.
  • Appointed volunteers to serve on the following committees:

Fire & EMS – Zeke Martinez

Parks & Public Works – Mike Bjornstad

Finance - Jackie Hentges

  • Approved Bridgeport High School ASB President Esteban Martinez as school representative on the council.
  • Tabled discussion of right-of-way, public event, and private event amendments to the Bridgeport Municipal Coded to a future meeting.
  • Approved council member Matt Schuh as Mayor Pro-Tem.
  • Dezellem completed demolition work of Berryman Park structures prior to upgrades that will be financed by Recreation and Conservation Office funds.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483 or michael@ward.media

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