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City, County dispute CCECC agreement

 

October 20, 2017



Changes to the interlocal cooperation agreement between Cheyenne County and City of Sidney for the Emergency Communications Center created a dispute between city and county officials serving on the CCECC authority board.

Sidney City Council asked for board members to serve as chairperson on a rotating basis. County Commissioners argued this will affect the board’s independence.

Authority board bylaws currently have the representing commissioner serve as chair.

“It spells out in the bylaws the responsibilities of the chairperson,” Paul Schaub, county attorney, said. “It indicates the chairperson is ultimately responsible for the agenda, putting out the notices and I believe the minutes, as well, but that is done through the (county) clerk.”

Council approved the change at their Sept. 26 meeting, but Commissioners at their Monday meeting tabled the agreement to receive input from the authority board.

Board member Ed Sadler, city manager, said the change was proposed to give the city a greater voice in CCECC budget discussions.

The city pays 65 percent of CCECC expenses, and the county 35 percent.

“Council took up budgets. The Cabela’s thing is well known. Everybody’s started cinching up their belts,” he said. “To be honest, (council) thought they were not being listened to about the budget, that they have very little impact, that they were providing 65 percent of the money but were having less than 65 percent of (the input).”

The CCECC budget has doubled over two years, Sadler said, creating concerns.

“With the city budget there were only two budgets that got an increase and this is one of them, and it got by far the biggest increase of any department in Sidney,” he said. “(Council) thought they had little to say about it.”

He added, “They were trying to address getting themselves in a position where they were sort of equal partners again.”

Sadler clarified the city’s concerns are for responsibility of the budget, not the percent of costs being covered.

“It’s not the 65 percent. It’s that it’s 65 percent of what? And what is a big question,” he said. “This is a big concern for us. It really is.”

Schaub voiced concerns about the liability issues that would be caused by the independent board having a rotating chairperson.

“If something happened and this board were to be brought into a lawsuit of course the city and the county would want to be interested in maintaining that identification,” he said. “The more it appears you’re actually controlling that board, the more vulnerable you are to become party to a lawsuit.”

Board member Joe Aikens, SPD chief of police, argued the disagreement should be resolved by the city and the county.

“This inter-local agreement never should have come to the board,” he said. “This board is created by the interlocal agreement. We should not be dictating what goes in this agreement. This is the county and the city’s agreement.”

He added, “We’re trying to let the tail wag the dog and that is not what needs to happen here.”

Board member John Jensen, Cheyenne County Sheriff, shared the board’s budget concerns, but said his first concern was for the law enforcement officers.

“With what’s going on in our world, I just want to make sure the comm center is there, that we have properly trained people, they’re doing the best they can for our people, because we’re coming across all kinds of stuff on the streets,” he said. “I want to make sure my guys are safe.”

The board approved the interlocal agreement submitted by the council with a change, that the chairperson be voted upon by the board January of every even-numbered year.

Commissioners will take action on the amended interlocal agreement and then return it to city council for approval.

 

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