Northlake Police Proposal
Question asked by Jeff - 11/6/2022 at 9:44 PM
Employee Post
Hi board,
I’m assuming Clay will send you Northlake‘s price increase proposal soon. I asked for it to be sent ASAP and he said it would be. It just came to Clay, Travis and me direct from their consultant since we were on the sub-committee.

Lots of details in it but ultimately it’s a proposal to move from $125 per household per year to $150.

I wanted to share my initial thoughts:

First, I feel we need to address unexpected/unplanned price hike proposals like this. We need to be able to plan and this is an off-cycle request. Contract renewal is next year. I feel any revision to the contract pricing should include an annual increase, as we have with All American Dogs, which will allow for better financial planning. I don’t know the right percentage. But a sudden and unplanned 20% hike on a six figure contract isn’t ideal.

Some of the methodology used to calculate Belmont’s ‘fair share’ is based upon the Northlake Police budget. But this is a budget set by other elected officials that are not accountable to our residents. We don’t want our ‘fair share’ to ebb and flow based on  the decisions of Northlake’s elected officials. If the political winds changed and Northlake cut the police budget, or drastically increased the police budget, what are the implications to our terms?  Whatever our ‘fair share’ is, I’m not fond of it being tethered to the budget Northlake’s elected officials set.

On a similar note, I would like to understand whether the department is over or under budget over the last few years. If the department is understaffed, we end up paying full price for reduced service. How do we mitigate?

The proposal also does not take into consideration the traffic enforcement revenue (both actual and warnings that could have been revenue). I’d like to understand how much that is and why that wasn‘t a factor in the report. It‘s a revenue stream that would stay with the District if we were self policed.

In the interest of transparency for our residents I am interested in getting a better understanding of all of our options. Northlake Police was a ‘buy-up’ years ago on the belief that Denton County Sheriff wouldn’t be able to provide the level of service that District residents would want. I’m sure we have residents that would advocate saving the funds and returning to Denton County Sheriff (as Lantana does). I’m also sure we have residents that would advocate paying more and having our own police department (as FWSD #10 does). Similarly I’m sure we have many residents content with the service from Northlake and would advocate renewal either as-is or with negotiation. The proposal from NL is providing us with an opportunity to take a fresh look at a significant contract through the lens of today. Perhaps we land in the same place as the 2016 board, but I want to hear your thoughts once you receive the proposal.

Belmont FWSD

5 Replies

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User Replied
I would like to look at this in more detail, but after briefly looking over the current contract, Section 6 (a) states "In the event that the demand for services during any year of the initial term or any subsequent term generates costs to Northlake that exceed the Annual Unit Cost for that year, Northlake shall provide a revised calculation of the Annual Unit Cost and the parties agree to use good faith efforts to adjust the Annual Unit Cost..." Also important to note: Section 10 (a) "Either party may terminate this Agreement at any time by giving 90 days notice to the other party. ..." I don't believe we have the luxury of delaying this discussion until next year.

Questions/Discussion points: 
It was stated Belmont residents are currently paying 125/home but I don't see where it mentioned what the Northlake residents are paying per home? 
As Jeff mentioned, What is the dollar amount collected in fines within the district boundaries?  (Section 9. Revenues Retained.)
We must also take into consideration the consultant was hired by the City of Northlake and will be biased toward their desires not ours.  
I believe we should discuss hiring our own consultant to help us in this negotiation.  There may be other items we need to include in the contract that we're not aware of.  
User Replied
I think relying on Northlake is a bad deal in every way for our residents.  I am open to establishing our own police department.  Argyle ISD has a small police force.  I am very interested in exploring better law enforcement option that are more responsive to the district for our residents. 
Jeff Replied
Employee Post
Matt, I’d like to hear more of your ideas either on here or at the next board meeting. A motion was made to approve the requested increase as-is but it did not pass. I joined Kendall in voting No. The proposal was received by the board same-day and Kendall had a question about it that he wanted answered before he could make an informed vote.

I also wanted to make sure there was universal understanding as to the Town’s proposal because some of the questions and statements at the board meeting didn’t make sense to me until I talked with a few residents who had a similar reaction. This is not an increase in funding to Northlake Police. No change to their budget. This is the Town of Northlake requesting our District pay more towards the overall budget. The Town would pay less. The contract has another year left on it, but the town is proposing it now. If you recall in April Mayor Pro Tem Montini attended the board meeting and stated that if the District did not restore the speed limits on Cleveland Gibbs he may seek to increase our police rates for enforcement. Six months later we have this request from the Town.

 But if we are to continue with Northlake Police and subscribe to the town’s proposed methodology where their town council sets the police budget and Belmont pays a ‘fair share’ based on percentage of service calls, I’d like to see some additional contract changes. Recalibration should happen annually where the Northlake Police budget and the Belmont service calls sync. With the growth of Pecan Square and an effort on our part towards reducing unproductive calls, we may see our contribution go down. But if nothing else, annual calibration should prevent sudden and significant cost increases.

Something to reflect on though. They calculate we are responsible for 7.2% of service calls and their proposed increase from $125 to $150 would have us contributing 7.09% of their police budget. But they also highlight that we are 38.5% of the combined population of Northlake and Belmont 1. If our call volume was proportionate to population we’d be looking at an over $800 per resident bill. So we’re fortunate that call volume is low. But that can change.

Matt back to your original statement. I began studying this proposal with an open mind. I calculated that Belmont 1 would need at least 7 officers for a police force. 168 hours in a week, that’s 4.2 officers just to cover 1 per shift. And since we cant have .2 officers we round up to 5. But you need backup for sickness, vacation and turnover. So that moves us to at least 7 officers and at least 2 vehicles. If you assume an officer all-in cost is $100k we’re at $700k just for personnel. And then add the cost of vehicles. Northlake’s proposal is $319,200. Although it would be nice to have a police force responsive exclusively to District residents, I wasn’t sure it was worth the added expense absent significant resident advocacy. But again, that was just my back of the napkin math, I’m interested to hear your thoughts. 

On the opposite end is to pay $0 extra and go back to Denton County Sheriff support via the Denton County taxes we already pay. But Chief Crawford and his team have done such a great job integrating into the community. They’re at community events they’re not required to be at. They’re at Lance Thompson giving kids high fives on the first day of school. As with above, absent resident advocacy I’m not sure this is an expense our residents would want us to cut now that they’re used to it.

But this should be back on the agenda this month so feel free to type up some thoughts here or save them for the meeting. I’m open to hearing all angles of this!
Board Belmont FWSD
User Replied
I believe we should look at hiring a consultant to look into our options regarding police and public safety options.  Does anyone know how many officers the Argyle Police Department has on staff?  Technically our contract with Northlake only requires they put 1 officer in Harvest the way I read it.  I am under the assumption that is not the case however.  I do believe the Northlake police have been providing BFWSD with excellent service over the years and I support maintaining our relationship and agreement with them as long as it benefits our community.

There is one point I would like to bring up from out last Board meeting.  A member suggested we build in a yearly increase to the police budget and fee we pay Northlake.  I believe the thought was to provide pay increases to the officers on an annual basis.  While I support the officers and I'm not opposed to paying them competitively.  Our contract with Northlake does not have an effect on the officers pay.  Our contract is a negotiation between BFWSD#1 and the City of Northlake, not with the police department.  I believe it is very important to avoid building in any automatic increases in any contract/agreement we enter into.  

My final thoughts on the funding of the Northlake Police: near the end of the meeting Chief Crawford responded to my question about how much a Northlake resident pays per home for police service.  I don't remember the exact number but he mentioned something close to 1,000 per home.  When he said this I almost fell out of my chair as it didn't seem possible, but I could not dispute as I had no data to base any argument.  

After the meeting I did some research and read through the budget for the City of Northlake.  
Some things to point out: 
Here is their projected property tax base for the next 20+ years, orange and blue are commercial and as you can see they are projecting a large increase in population within the next 5 -10 years in which they estimate only 50% of their property tax revenue will com from commercial.

My primary point in bringing this up is that we cannot compare BMFWD#1 contributions in the same way they calculate Northlake resident contributions as we don't have the additional revenue sources they enjoy.  Their residents pay a property tax rate of .295 while we just lowered ours to .85 recently.  

With all this said, I'm not opposed to paying the higher 150/home rate for police services but I do believe it warrants more discussion and possibly input from a consultant.

Looking forward to hearing thoughts from the rest of the board.

Patricia Replied
Employee Post
I haven’t personally heard any complaints about a low level of service from the police. Given that the trajectory is a consideration of annexation to the town of Northlake, I believe it is prudent to build strong relationships with the town, particularly when it comes to safety of the residents. I believe that the accessibility of the police to our residents is worth a premium compared to the county (ie really short drive time to respond, especially to instances such as domestic violence calls or burglary, and hopefully never need to respond to a shooting incident on district property). I know from living in the country prior to moving here that police responding immediately as county patrol are often 15 minutes or so away. I don’t believe that is quick enough for some of the above mentioned situations for our residents. I see the current officers knowing the roads and status of closures as a benefit to being able to respond quickly to residents.

From a cost perspective, I don’t think the cost is unreasonable. 3 full time officers plus benefits for those officers which would provide the equivalent of one full time person round the clock available is likely close to $234,000 alone, and that doesn’t include cost of vehicles being outfitted, systems for supporting the reporting that is required, gas costs, maintenance etc. We have about 2,100 homes currently occupied, so that times 150 annually is about $315,000. So that $81k I would see covering part time help in addition to 1 full time person round the clock. I am open to getting our own independent quote as long as doing so does not create a contentious relationship with Northlake police because that does not serve the residents well. I would also want to have a strong idea that the ROI of the money we’d be able to save by having an independent review would outweigh the cost of having one completed.
Board Belmont FWSD

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