TIMELINE OF EVENTS REGARDING ILA NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE CITY AND COLUMBIA COUNTY
Please find below a brief chronological list of efforts have been made between the City and County to move the negotiations forward between November 6, 2017 - September 10, 2020:
- 11/06/2017 – The City's negotiator, Attorney Quinn Plant, met with Board of County Commissioners to discuss the contractual relationship relating to court services and law enforcement services.
- 11/13/2017 – The City sent request for information to Judge G. Scott Marinella regarding level of municipal court services.
- 11/13/2017 – Mr. Plant spoke with Sheriff Miller inquiring about information specific to the level of services the City was receiving at the time. Sheriff Miller advised Mr. Plant the only available information regarding level of services would be the budget information available on the County’s website.
- 11/14/2017 – The City sent a letter to the County Commissioners requesting information regarding level of services associated with law enforcement and court service Interlocal Agreements (hereinafter "ILA's").
- 01/08/2018 – The City sent a follow up letter to the County Commissioners concerning the November 14, 2017 request for information regarding level of services associated with law enforcement and court service ILAs.
- 02/08/2018 – City receives correspondence from Judge G. Scott Marinella regarding the City’s second request, dated 01/08/2018, for information.
- 06/18/2018 – The City received a request from the County Commissioners to resend the City's November 14, 2017 letter.
- 06/19/2018 – The City responded to the County's 06/18/2018 request and resent November 14, 2017 letter requesting level of service, budget, and resources information specific to court services and law enforcement services.
- 05/20/2019 – The City received a letter from the County formally requesting that several contracts be opened up for negotiations including, but not limited to, court services and law enforcement and dispatch services.
- 05/24/2019 – Mayor Weatherford contacted Commissioner Rundell to explain that the contract negotiations have been underway since mid-2017.
- 05/28/2019 – Mr. Plant submitted letter to County Commissioners in response to the County's 05/20/2019 request to open contract negotiations. The letter summarized the city's position in moving the negotiations forward.
- 12/06/2019 – The City was notified that the County obtained an attorney to perform negotiations on their behalf. Mr. Lance King (County attorney hired for negotiations) followed up with available times to meet to discuss data allegedly provided on 11/15/2019 and the ILAs. Within the 12/6/2019 forwarded email, there was a statement from Mr. King dated 11/15/2019 as follows: "I apologize if this is a duplicative email. I sent you this email a while back from my phone, but sometimes emails from my phone don’t go out depending on my cell coverage."
- 12/23/2019 – Mr. Plant followed up with Mr. King expressing confusion on data provided in 12/06/2019 email and requested a phone conference to discuss information for early January.
- 01/15/2020 – The City received letter from Mr. King alleging that the City was ignoring his requests to negotiate, and implied that the County Commissioners want to move to arbitration.
- 01/16/2020 – Mr. Plant responded to Mr. King disputing Mr. King's allegations that he had been ignoring emails, but simply had not received emails from Mr. King and requested a phone call to further discuss negotiations.
- 02/06/2020 – Mr. King followed up with an email providing various dates in February that he is available to talk on the phone to discuss next steps of negotiations. Mr. Plant confirmed the phone conference for 02/11/2020.
- 02/11/2020 – Mr. Plant and Mr. King performed telephone discussion.
- 03/05/2020 – Mr. King provided law enforcement, dispatch, and district court services budget information, offering comparison between 2013-2020.
- 04/30/2020 – Mr. King submitted proposed changes to the ILAs.
- 05/21/2020 – The City responded to the County's proposed changes and requested a basis for allocating the proposed percentages to each of the services and, again, requested information pertaining to the law enforcement budget and resources.
- 06/07/2020 – The City receives letter from Mr. King, in response to the City’s 05/21/2020 correspondence, provided the factors for requesting the increases in each of the budgets. It was implied that it has been 3-years since the County has made a good faith effort to renegotiate the ILAs. It also provided notice that the County was discontinuing all non-contracted services. There was a copy of the 2019 projected County budget included for the City’s review.
- 06/16/2020 – City submitted public records request to County for budgets for 2017, 2018 and 2019 specific to Sheriff's Department, Dispatch Services and Columbia County District Court.
- 06/18/2020 – Received request from County to clarify public records request submitted 06/16/2020.
- 06/22/2020 – City provided clarification on public records request and City receives County budgets for 2018 and 2019 for all County departments.
- 06/22/2020 – Mr. Plant emails Mr. King to schedule a meeting to discuss City's request for basic information.
- 06/22/2020 – Columbia County issued Press Release regarding ILAs with the City for Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, and Dispatch and discontinuing certain services.
- 06/22/2020 – City issued Press Release outlining timeline of events and City’s position on negotiations.
- 06/23/2020 – Mr. King responded to Mr. Plant's email from 06/22/202 relaying that he is waiting for direction from the County on discussing the ILAs basic information.
- 07/02/2020 – Mr. Plant responded to Mr. King's letter, received 06/07/2020, requesting clarification on 2019 budget information.
- 07/02 - 07/17/2020 – Mr. Plant and Mr. King worked on coordinating schedule to conduct Zoom meeting between City and County to discuss negotiations.
- 07/28/2020 – City sent County a list of questions regarding the clarification on items within the County's 2019 and 2020 Budget regarding law enforcement, dispatch, and court departments.
- 07/29/2020 – Mr. Plant submitted Mayor Weatherford's questions regarding the level of services and other pertaining to the law enforcement, dispatch, and court services.
- 07/30/2020 – City and County met in Zoom meeting to discuss negotiations and possible counterproposal by the City. City received County response to City's request for information sent on 07/28/2020.
- 08/06/2020 – Mr. Plant followed up with 07/09/2020 email sent to Mr. King regarding Mayor Weatherford's request for information.
- 08/18/2020 – Mr. Plant followed up on scheduling another meeting to discuss negotiations and expressed concerns that without answering the City's/Mayor's questions regarding level of services that a proposal by the City to the County may not be possible.
- 08/20/2020 – City followed up with an email explaining the city is working on a new agreement to outline what the services the City would like the County to perform, but City would like information regarding the level of services currently being provided. In addition, email had an informal counterproposal based on a firm dollar amount versus a percentage basis.
- 08/20/2020 – Mr. King responded to Mr. Plant's emails of 08/18/2020 and 08/20/2020 siting that budget information was previously provided along with advisement to include counter proposal in a formal response and states that County will only agree to a specific dollar amount as long as there is an escalator clause in the new ILA.
- 08/20/2020 – Mr. Plant responded to Mr. King's 08/20/2020 email explaining that the City is not asking for budget information but for level of service and provides an example of what type of information the City is requesting.
- 08/24/2020 – Mr. King responded that the County is not able to meet on August 24 due to scheduling conflicts and also states that because the City has not submitted a proposal, the meeting would not be productive.
- 08/31/2020 – City Council held special meeting and formally approved mediation services to assist moving the negotiations forward. Mr. Plant received email confirming that the County agreed to mediation.
- 09/01-09/10/2020 – Mr. Plant and Mr. King have been discussing potential options for mediators.
City Council Public Safety Standing Committee and Mayor's Position on Negotiations:
As provided in the June 22, 2020 Press Release, the County did send notice in May 2019 requesting negotiations on the interlocal agreements. Though, at the time, the City and County had actually been in formal negotiations since mid-2017; and, the City had requested level of services ("LOS") and budget information dating as far back as 2016. Our inquiries have remained largely unanswered.
In the 12/6/2019 forwarded email from 11/15/2020, Mr. King stated, "I apologize if this is a duplicative email. I sent you this email a while back from my phone, but sometimes emails from my phone don’t go out depending on my cell coverage." We refute Mr. Rundell's allegations that the City has not responsive to Mr. King's calls or emails based on the public records that show otherwise.
1. Law Enforcement Negotiations:
In Mr. King’s letter dated June 4, 2020, he claims that "approximately 80% of Columbia County Sheriff's Office call for service are within the Dayton city limits". However, following the press releases of June 22, 2020, a local citizen reached out to report that CCSO posts their Weekly Incident Logs on Facebook. The City compiled data from this source of information and based on these logs, and is summarized as follows:
2020 Incident Data*
|Dates of Incident Log||Total Incidents||County||City||Percentage within City Limits|
|06/15 - 06/21/2020||104||52||52||50.0%|
|06/08 - 06/14/2020||113||49||64||56.6%|
|06/01 - 06/07/2020||113||53||61||54.0%|
|05/25 - 05/31/2020||127||54||73||57.5%|
2019 Incident Data*
|Dates of Incident Log||Total Incidents||County||City||Percentage within City Limits|
|06/10 - 06/16/2019||119||67||52||42.9%|
|06/03 - 06/09/2019||109||48||61||56.0%|
|05/27 - 06/02/2019||130||50||80||61.5%|
*Incident reports "Contact at 341 E. Main St." - Percentages may change based on whether contact was made for City or County related business/contact.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office's Weekly Incident Logs do not support the County's claim that 80% of the calls are within the Dayton city limits. Furthermore, upon review of these incident logs, does land density play a role in the negotiations and the costs for service?
What does the City mean by this? Please find below a simple example of land density versus population density:
Say the Sheriff receives a call to respond to an incident at Camp Wooten. Based on Google Maps, this call via the shortest roundtrip route, would require, at a minimum, one officer to travel 46 minutes (21.9 miles) one way to offer response. Not including time on site, this is a total of 92 minutes spent driving a total of 43.8 miles. Note – this assumes a start and return location of the Columbia County Courthouse.
Now, say the Sheriff receives a call from the most westerly city limits line on Highway 12. For this example, we will use 535 W. Cameron St. According to Google Maps, this would require, at a minimum, one officer to travel 2 minutes (.8 mile) one way to offer response. Not including incident response time, this is a total of 4 minutes spent driving a total of 1.6 miles. Note – this assumes a start and return location of the Columbia County Courthouse.
Although the County alleges the City is 80% of the calls, is the City actually only 10% of the costs for services (manpower, fuel, wear and tear on vehicles, etc.) based on land density? This is a factor that the City feels should be considered in determining a cost for services.
In specific response to Mr. Rundell's claim "All County departments had spent time and resources on services for the City. For instance, the City has received 61% of district court case services, but the County is only requesting the City pay 35% of total costs."
Based on the Columbia County Assessor's Tax Levy Sheet for 2019 and 2020, property owners located inside city limits were projected to cumulatively contribute approximately $259,582 in property taxes towards Columbia County's General and, in 2020, it is projected to be $266,366. Not to mention, residents that use the various services such as vehicle licensing, marriage licenses, etc., pay fees for those services. The County does in fact provide different services for city residents, but the residents inside city limits contribute financially towards these services.
2. Municipal Court Services Negotiations:
The City gives pause to Commissioner Rundell's statistic that the City "…has received 61% of district court case services" for the following two reasons:
- As sited in the letter received from Judge G. Scott Marinella on February 8, 2018 , Columbia County District Court/Dayton Municipal Court "does not keep time records relating to the cases that come through our court." Although this letter is from early 2018, the letter further states, " There is simply no way to accurately come up with an estimate. Some charges resolve in a simple, straight-forward manner while the same charge with another defendant may go to a trial." If, according to Judge Marinella, there is "simply no way to accurately come up with an estimate", where did Commissioner Rundell's statistics originate from? It would be helpful for the City to obtain that data to productively move forward with negotiations.
- Mr. King's correspondence received 06/07/2020 , claims that approximately 59% of Columbia County District Court cases are related to the City of Dayton citizens. This contradicts Commissioner Rundell's and Judge G. Scott Marinella's claims.
What the City does know, (and a sincere thank you to Judge Marinella and his staff for providing the information, they have been the most responsive and complete in our requests for information), is annually, the Washington Courts distributes a report called "Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Annual Report, Annual Caseload Report" (hereinafter Caseload Report"). This report is comprised of data that is shared by the courts of limited jurisdiction through the statewide computer application called Judicial Information System for recording and processing cases.
What the City has gleaned from the annual Caseload Report, 2012 - 2019, is that the Dayton Municipal Court caseload percentage varies year to year as follows:
Although the Caseload Report prefaces the data with "Caseload tables do not comprise a complete workload report. Administrative activities, non-case activity, and off-bench case activity are not reflected in caseload statistics.", this is the best available information that the City has to determine what an appropriate cost for services would be. It appears that the City of Dayton Municipal Court makes up, on an average, 27% of the total caseload for Columbia County's District Court. At no time within the last 8-years did the Dayton Municipal Court comprise of 61% or 59% of the District Court caseload. Furthermore, Columbia County is requesting that the City pay 35% of the Columbia County’s District Court budget for the City’s municipal court services.
3. Dispatch Services:
The City received the Total Number of Columbia County Emergency Management Calls for January 1, 2014 - October 9, 2019. Again, the City has requested additional information on the breakdown of calls specific to the various service organizations and have not received a response from the County on this matter.
It is our belief, the County's attempting to pressure the City into carelessly agreeing to an increase in compensation from $440,941 to $640,467, or $199,526, annually. It is our stance that making a recommendation to the City Council to authorize new interlocal agreements, with an increase in compensation without receiving a defensible need from the County for said increases would be an exceptionally irresponsible act on behalf of the citizens we represent.
The City Council has an obligation to its constituents to understand: 1) What LOS are currently being provided under the existing agreements; and, 2) Any other information that may be relevant in making a decision; because, if approved, the increase in costs will likely result in reduction of other services such as park amenities and/or cemetery maintenance.
The County's resistance to provide reasonable statistics, in our opinion, has delayed the negotiation process for three years. The Committee recognizes the benefits of maintaining cooperative relationships. With the help of mediation, as recommended by the Committee, we are encouraged that cooperation between the City and County will be negotiated fairly and equitably resulting in a lasting partnership.