Ocean Ridge still interested in Sheriff's Office policing town

— Talks about the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office taking over policing in this town aren't dead yet.

On May 8, residents of the barrier-island town of about 2,000 had packed commission chambers to hear PBSO's pitch. Most who spoke said they'd rather keep their 20-member department, even if it meant paying more.

Town commissioners said they' take a vote at their meeting on June 4 - Monday. But on May 15, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said he was withdrawing his bid.

In the meantime, Ocean Ridge Chief Christopher Yannuzzi said Saturday, residents who were intrigued by the potential savings told city leaders that "the workshop was full of emotion instead of fact" and that they wanted to hear more details on the finances.

Yannuzzi did not know if the sheriff's office will formally renew its pitch and said he did not believe any PBSO representatives will be at Monday's meeting. PBSO spokeswoman Teri Barbera wasn't immediately able to provide details on Saturday.

In the plan discussed in May, Ocean Ridge would pay the sheriff $1.15 million each of the first two years, a savings of about $600,000 a year over the town's police personnel budget of $1.7 million.

The 20-person Ocean Ridge department includes a chief and lieutenant, four sergeants, nine officers, and five dispatchers and clerks. The sheriff would cut dispatchers and four sergeants, but increase road patrols from eight to 10 people.

Yannuzzi, 57, would become the sheriff's lieutenant for the town, and Ocean Ridge staff would be invited to apply to work for the sheriff's office.

The town had said it probably would spend $2 million in its next budget if it keeps its police department. One commissioner, Zoanne Hennigan, estimated a home with a taxable value of $1 million would save $843 the first year and $4,215 over five years if the town went with the sheriff's office.

eliot_kleinberg@pbpost.com


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