It happened four years after the talks began, three years after the shared services agreement was executed and two years after a vision escalated.
Meeting after meeting was held. San Anselmo Town Manager Debra Stutsman posted update after update about how the San Anselmo Police Department was moving toward a full-fledged consolidation with the Twin Cities Police Authority.
And the final motion — an approval vote from the San Anselmo Town Council — came unanimously on Tuesday night, green lighting the police consolidation and the creation of the Central Marin Police Authority.
The Larkspur council has already approved the consolidation and the Corte Madera council is expected to vote on the topic next week.
The consolidation will be effective on January 1, 2013.
Nearly every seat was taken in the council chambers for Tuesday's meeting, with some people standing in the outside hallway.
“We’ve been working at this for the better part of the last two years,” said Councilman Ford Greene. “There has been a lot of concern that San Anselmo would lose its identity and that we really need to have our own police force that’s distinct from other communities.”
But, Greene continued, the reality of the “inter-locking” neighboring communities and the expensive of all the various agencies in Marin are proof that consolidation makes sense.
Councilman Jeff Kroot said at the Dec. 11 meeting he had been “won over” on the idea. “I think the police department is very core and key to a community, but as I’ve worked with the new people and [Twin Cities Police Authority Chief Todd Cusimano] and his excellent staff I’ve found they have been very responsive and this is going to work quite well.”
Other councilmembers spoke to how happy they were that everyone in the different agencies has been working together well.
“This is rightly seen as a model not only for the rest of the county but in the entire state,” said Mayor Tom McInerney.
Town officials have said the merger will save the police agencies and towns a significant amount of funds while improving services to both communities. Stutsman told the council Tuesday night that it’s estimated the consolidation will save San Anselmo between $800,000 and $900,000 a year.
San Anselmo spent roughly $3.7 million for the 2012-13 year on police. It’s a number that town officials said “is considerably reduced over what it would have been had we not been sharing services,” according to a San Anselmo staff report.
The town would have spent $4.67 million on police this year if it hadn’t been sharing services, according to staff estimates.
Being part of the authority is expected to cost San Anselmo $3.86 million in 2013. “While staff believes this estimate is fairly accurate, it should be noted that the JPA is currently in labor negotiations with its employees,” the staff report said.
Under the new joint powers agreement, the town of San Anselmo will still be the owner of the San Anselmo Police Station, but will lease it to the Central Marin Police Authority. Similarly, Larkspur and Corte Madera will remain the owners of the new Twin Cities Police Authority station, which will be used for the Central Marin Police Authority.
There was some concern from residents during the Dec. 6 Larkspur City Council meeting that the consolidation could slow response times. Chief Cusimano was ready with statistics that pointed to an improvement in response times since the agencies began the shared services agreement.
Also on Tuesday night the council appointed McInerney and Greene to serve on the six-member police council with two members from each of the towns. Coleman was selected as an alternate.
The tone throughout the meeting, when officials were discussing the consolidation and honoring local officials, was light and friendly.
At one point, McInerney joked that the San Anselmo council chambers microphone would have to be elevated if the towering Cusimano was going to begin regularly attending meetings. The audience erupted into laughter.
MAYNARD HONORED FOR RETIREMENT, CONSOLIDATION
San Anselmo Police Chief Charles Maynard, one of the consolidation visionaries, will retire before the end of this month. The council OK’d Cusimano filling in as interim police chief until the new police agency forms in January.
Maynard recently told the Ross Valley Reporter that the consolidation between the police departments is his proudest accomplishment in his 12-year tenure at the department.
“I’m a little bit choked up,” Maynard said about the consolidation at the Tuesday night meeting. “I’ve been waiting for this to happen for so long. I’m excited and proud. I know I’m leaving the organization in good hands.”
See an above video of Maynard addressing the audience.
All the council members spent time thanking Maynard for his service and honoring him for his retirement. See the video of McInerney talking about Maynard above.
“You’ve brought a style that features brains, humor and warmth in a package that all goes together,” Greene said.
“You’re part of our family and you’ve been the most tremendous leader,” said San Anselmo Chamber CEO Connie Rodgers during public comment. “We’re going to miss you more than I can ever, ever tell you.”