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Spirit Lake to renegotiate on school liaison officer

By Staff | May 15, 2008

After considerable discussion over the city’s share of the cost compared to benefit received, the Spirit Lake City Council Tuesday referred back to the Safety Committee an agreement with the Spirit Lake School District for a school liaison officer.

Under the agreement, the school district would pay $20,000 to have an officer on-site for nine months a year with the city having the officer the remaining three months. The city would carry the other $30,000 cost of the officer.

“Well I have some problems with it,” Councilman Stephen Balm said of the agreement, noting that $20,000 did not start to cover the cost of the position.

Police Chief Jeff Hanson said he had an officer in the department with eight years of experience who was interested in the position. He recommended that the school liaison officer serve for two to three years to avoid burnout. He estimated it would cost $19,745 yearly to cover 40 percent of the officer’s wages and benefits.

“It’s basically to me a factor of commitment,” Balm said. “I’m also bothered by the fact that it’s a one-year deal” he said of the agreement. The city would hire an additional officer to cover for the vacancy made by the transfer of an officer to the school. “We’re going to inherit that officer as well,” Balm said.

Balm suggested that the city renegotiate for a multi-year contract and that the school district pay 40 percent of actual cost in the future.

Councilman Kevin Bice suggested that the council wait a year to hire another officer.

However, Hanson said complaints were up by 100 this year, noting the need for an additional officer.

Councilman Clyde Ihrke said a commitment of two or three years would be better than one year.

Bice moved that the Safety Committee renegotiate the contract with the school district, and the council approved.