Electric City votes to change police service

Details of $250k contract in works with Coulee Dam


Last updated 11/16/2022 at 1:28pm

Electric City will change from hiring Grand Coulee’s police department to enforce law in its city to contracting with a city slightly further away — Coulee Dam — after reviewing proposals from both departments for future police services.

Details are still being smoothed out following a Monday city council meeting in Coulee Dam in which council members asked for clarifications, but their consensus was to accept the agreement in principle after clarifications were made.

The deal will require Coulee Dam’s two-man department to double personnel. It’s already an officer short; another will be needed to add the 40-hour weekly commitment for responding to Electric City, on call at all times.

Grand Coulee’s police have been servicing Electric City for decades and is also staffed to patrol for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under contract for law enforcement. The Bureau has its own security force but without arrest powers.

Electric City’s council voted Nov. 8 to accept Coulee Dam’s proposal after a discussion in which Mayor Diane Kohout provided a single-sheet comparison of the two proposals she said were much the same, with some differences.

The decision surprised Grand Coulee officials, who said in their own preliminary budget hearing last night they’d only learned of it Nov. 9, after the budget under consideration had been proposed, including for the police department.

Kohout’s outline showed each department proposing a first-year cost of the five-year deal at about a quarter million dollars. Each added a provision for cost of living adjustments.

Electric City Councilmember Brian Buche noted that Coulee Dam’s offer included all vehicle costs, although Electric City would be responsible for vehicle damage if police had to go on a “non-serviceable road.” He said that factor could nullify the small difference in price: Grand Coulee’s first-year price was $251,303.66; Coulee Dam’s was $250,000 after a $25,000 discount for the first three months.

But Electric City has been at this juncture before. In June of 2015, the council decided to switch to Coulee Dam in 2016, for $122,223 a year.

That didn’t happen, and by the next February, Grand Coulee was still selling its police service to its neighbor while negotiating a contract extension, seeking $125,000 a year.

Six years later, Coulee Dam is offering its service for twice that.

Even so, council members there were cautious, wanting to avoid a mistake, questioning details: • Would their police officers have to cover Sunbanks Lake Resort’s twice yearly music festivals? No, answered Chief Paul Bowden; that would cost extra if the resort didn’t have its own security.

• Would an officer’s travel time to court be included in the 40 hours, or would Electric City pay extra for that? An apparently ambiguous travel clause was meant to address cases that extended into out-of-city areas, City Clerk Stefani Bowden explained. An attorney is working to clarify that.

Coulee Dam’s council will gather in a special meeting tonight (Nov. 16) at 5 p.m. to discuss updates and go over clarifications, also to hold one of its own budget workshops.


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