SANTA CLARA – Six months ago, the City of Santa Clara and Ivins City police departments joined forces to become Santa Clara/Ivins (or SCI) Public Safety. The success of this merger has paved the way for future amalgamation of city agencies.
Though it took effect on Jul. 1, 2012, the merger was a complex process nearly one year in the making. After much discussion among the Santa Clara and Ivins police departments about possibly joining forces, Bob Flowers, who now serves as Director of SCI Public Safety, performed a cost analysis and found that it would save both cities much-needed funding.
“(At the time), we were in a fiscal crisis at the local level. We were wrestling with diminished resources for law enforcement,” he said. “For cities as small as ours, it helps to share. It’s responsible use of tax dollars.”
Both departments’ administration and budgets were completely restructured over the following months. However, jobs were neither added nor eliminated, which Flowers said was a top priority. Another priority was assuring the citizens of both cities and employees of both departments that neither would be placed above the other in importance; hence, the new SCI name and logo were placed on all vehicles, badges and uniforms.
Ivins and Santa Clara have both saved approximately $140,000 in law enforcement expenses this fiscal year as a result of the merger. But the benefits go beyond just the budget.
“(I have observed) increased professionalism of officers and more effective leadership,” Santa Clara Mayor Rick Rosenberg said. “(The department) was tested during the recent flood and met all of my expectations.”
As director, Flowers reports to both city councils and said things are running very smoothly. The only drawback he has found is that some citizens do not fully understand what the merger is. However, “It’s been great for the officers (and) for the cities,” he said. “Our services are actually better.”
Spurred on by the success of the public safety merger, the two city courts are currently being combined. This will conveniently move the Ivins court to Santa Clara City Hall, rather than the Washington County Justice Court building. The joining of the fire departments is also being strongly considered.
These transitions have led some to speculate that Santa Clara and Ivins themselves may someday become one. However, it appears that is not in either city’s forseeable future, or best interest.
“The communities are very different and have different goals and ideals,” Rosenberg said.
“But they have realized that they work together well,” Flowers said. “This is a national trend that I believe we’ll be seeing more of in this area. If sister cities have resources they can share, they should.”
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