Half Moon Bay Considering Cutting Police Force To Solve Budget Crisis
HALF MOON BAY (BCN) – In the wake of Half Moon Bay voters’ defeat of a one-cent sales tax increase on Nov. 2, the city’s mayor said this week that officials now face major changes to the police and recreation departments in order to close a projected budget deficit that could be as high as $800,000.
“The biggest chunk of our budget is police services,” Mayor Marina Fraser said.
Maintaining an independent police force costs Half Moon Bay approximately $3.5 million annually, Fraser said, and city officials are entertaining the option of contracting out police services to another, larger law enforcement agency.
A formal request for bids has not been made and Fraser did not specify which agencies might be candidates.
“Because we are geographically isolated, it makes it a little more challenging,” she said. “But whatever contract we’re looking at, it is going to mean a reduced level of service.”
A spokesman for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office – whose department last month absorbed the San Carlos police force, saving that city more than $2 million annually – said he was not aware of any proposal to provide police services for Half Moon Bay.
In addition to reorganizing its policing, Half Moon Bay officials are also considering changes to its recreation department, which could include renting out a city-owned community center and cutting recreational programs that aren’t financially self-sustaining.
The mayor said budget issues and service cuts would likely be addressed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday and at most council meetings in the near future.
“We’re ultimately going to look at all of City Hall,” Fraser said.
“There’s really nothing for us to fall back on,” she said.
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