Elgin contract for law enforcement services ratified by Union County Board of Commissioners

June. 30—LA GRANDE — It’s official, a new six-year law enforcement contract between the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Elgin is in place.

The Union County Board of Commissioners voted to ratify the contract at its meeting on Wednesday, June 29, eight days after the Elgin City Council approved the contract on June 21. The city council did so after voting in May against a proposed contract to retain the services of the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

The council intended to reestablish Elgin’s police department to replace the enhanced law enforcement services Elgin has been receiving from the Union County Sheriff’s Office for about 10 years. Had the Elgin City Council not changed course, the Union County Sheriff’s Office would have had to lay off two of the three deputies who currently serve Elgin. The deputy who would not have been laid off would have been transferred to an open position in the Union County Sheriff’s Office.

Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen said after the vote he would be writing letters to officially tell the two deputies that their positions are secure.

“I will tell them that their jobs are no longer in jeopardy,” Bowen said after the meeting.

Under the terms of the new contract, which takes effect July 1, Elgin will continue to receive a minimum of 420 hours of law enforcement services a month. The city will pay Union County $315,400 in 2022-23 for law enforcement services, $337,603 in 2023-24 and $350,771 in 2024-25 during the first three years of the pact.

The payments the city of Elgin will make during the final three years of the contract will be dependent on the cost of living increases granted to Union County’s sheriff’s deputies. The increases will be negotiated by the Union County Sheriff’s Office with the Union County Law Enforcement Association. Increases greater than 4% for materials and services would be negotiated between the city and county.

In another action item the Union County Board of Commissioners voted to adopt a total budget of $58,447 million for 2022-23, up 14% from the 2021-22 budget. The spending plan calls for Union County to keep all of its positions and programs except for two corrections positions. The corrections officer positions are being cut due to rising personnel costs and because some revenue the county anticipated receiving for the positions did not materialize, according to Shelley Burgess, the administrative and budget officer for Union County.

Burgess said four corrections positions were added a year ago with approval of the budget committee and that two of these positions are now being cut. She said at the time the budget committee believed the county would receive grants and other funding that would help pay for the four positions.

“The grants and funding we were hoping for did not come in fully,” Burgess said.

Of the two positions to be cut, one is unfilled, which means the reductions will result in one layoff.

Also at the June 29 meeting, the board of commissioners voted to approve the distribution funding from the Union County’s Transient Room Tax, also known as its motel tax.

The board voted to provide the Union County Fair Association with a grant of just more than $26,000 for a bleacher replacement project, a total of $30,000 to the Eastern Oregon Livestock Show for the first two phases of its exterior lighting project, $6,500 for the 2022 Eastern Oregon Film Festival, $3,000 for the city of Union’s Fireworks Committee for this year’s Fourth of July celebration and just more than $2,200 for the Union County Chamber of Commerce for its crop tour video project.

The distributions approved by the board had all been recommended by Union County’s Transient Room Tax Committee.

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