For the past year, Town of Coupeville officials have been exploring options in dealing with staffing issues within the marshal’s office.
Mayor Nancy Conard said the issue began a little more than a year ago with a sudden turnover within the department.
The town is looking at two options, to keep its department with changes to staffing, or to contract with the Island County Sheriff’s Office.
Regardless of which route they choose, the recently approved 2014 budget will accommodate the roughly $400,000 expenditure.
And neither option will provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week patrol coverage.
Conard said she plans on bringing a contract from the sheriff’s office for review to Coupeville Town Council Jan. 12 during its regular council meeting.
The council has not made any decisions one way or the other.
But what do citizens want?
If both options cost roughly the same amount and have similar coverage, then one of the biggest issues will be identity.
Conard said if the town contracts with the sheriff’s office, there will be a designated “marshal” and a set Coupeville deputy. They will also wear Coupeville uniforms and drive Coupeville patrol vehicles.
But will it really be the same? Do residents inside town limits really care?
Before making decisions on this issue, Coupeville officials need to ask.
Sure they talk about it during regular council meetings.
Those meetings are rarely attended.
Representatives need to go talk to citizen groups, hold a community meeting and get input from the public.
Lay out each plan in detail to the people and let them help the town decide which direction to go.
It’s a town service, funded by the citizens and businesses, let them be a part of the decision.
— Megan Hansen is editor of The Whidbey Examiner. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org