Scottville to advertise for part-time chief

February 21, 2013

By Lisa Enos, MCP Correspondent.

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Public Safety Committee met Wednesday to discuss the fate of the Scottville Police Department and its employees. Present were committee members and Scottville City Commissioners Richard Maki, David Johnson, Jim Schiebner and Mayor Joe Baxter. Maki, Johnson and Schiebner are on the committee because they have law enforcement experience.

City Manager Amy Williams led the discussion regarding the options available to Scottville. Its contract with Ludington Police Department and the ‘sharing’ of Ludington’s chief, captain and detective ends December 31. Williams said if she could, she would extend the deal with the Ludington Police Department because it allows officers working in the city more patrol time on the streets as Ludington Police Department is responsible for generating most of the paperwork under the present agreement.

But that deal is not being extended and it’s come down to two scenarios: either share a county deputy or hire a part-time police chief.

One possible scenario may involve entering into an agreement with the county to share a ‘roaming’ deputy who would work four 10-hour shifts in Scottville and the immediate vicinity. In that case one of the two Scottville police vehicles would be turned over to the county and retrofitted to appear as a Mason County Sheriff’s Department vehicle. Williams proposed to County Administrator Fabian Knizacky that Scottville pay $65,000 or approximately 75% the deputy’s salary, with the county picking up the other 25% because the officer would be allowed to respond to calls outside the city limits if needed and may work for the county the other three days of the week. The proposal must go before the County Board of Commissioners for approval.

Rather than wait for the county’s approval — in the interest of saving time, and in case the proposal is rejected — the Scottville Public Safety Committee decided Wednesday it will recommend to the City Commissioners at the regular meeting March 4 to advertise a job opening for a part-time Scottville police chief.

Hiring a part-time police chief would free up enough money to keep part time officers and full time officers Jason Williams and Angela Babinec. Another ‘plus’ is that Scottville wouldn’t have to incur unemployment liability related to her dismissal, nor risk a rise in unemployment insurance rates.

“I have been here 15 years and I have never had a (unemployment) claim for more than a part-time summer person. Right now our unemployment rate is 5.6% And I’ve never had anybody besides part-time summer employees leave. We have never let anyone go,” said Williams.

Mayor Baxter made his preference known as well, but stated he would go along with whatever the committee decides.

“We just invested a ton of money into (the Scottville Police Department). We have just upgraded our facility. We have two very qualified officers and qualified part timers,” said Mayor Baxter. “Significant upgrades have gone on and we have folks here who are already qualified. Why do we want to lose our identity, yet another piece of it, to Ludington and end up putting Angela (Babinec) on the street?”

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