BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — It appears a high-profile merger between the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Boynton Beach Police Department is off the table, for now.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw released a letter Monday saying the city of Boynton Beach "no longer wishes to go forward with discussions about a merger."
READ: Letter from Sheriff Ric Bradshaw
Boynton Beach Mayor Ty Penserga said the sheriff's office on July 21 sent the city a proposal to take over its law enforcement duties.
According to the proposal, more than 270 sheriff's office employees — including 80 deputies, 16 sergeants and 62 crossing guards — would be devoted to Boynton Beach at a cost of $42.4 million.
In his letter Monday, Bradshaw said the city had initially contacted the sheriff’s office about the merger.
"At no time did we ask for or initiate the discussions," Bradshaw wrote, adding that after meetings and a review of the police department's budget, PBSO submitted the July 21 proposal for the merger.
"On August 12th the city informed the sheriff's office they had a substantial pension fund liability that affects the merger," Bradshaw wrote. "At all times and in each meeting it was made very clear that at any time the city was not satisfied with the process they were free to terminate the discussions."
Bradshaw added the sheriff's office will assist the city "in anyway if asked to do so."
After Boynton Beach had received the proposal last month, Penserga told WPTV he was evaluating what the merger would mean for the city.
"This is only the first step of a review process, and no decisions will be made until there is significant community input, staff and commission reviews and robust public discussion, including public hearings with citizen input," Penserga said in a written statement. "I have many questions regarding services provided, finances, including pension costs, officer training and technology integration between the two departments."
In addition to the unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County, the sheriff's office's jurisdiction includes multiple municipalities, including Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth Beach, Wellington, Mangonia Park, Loxahatchee Groves, Greenacres, Westlake, Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay, South Palm Beach and Palm Beach Shores.
The Police Benevolent Association believes a big con was the proposed pension fund that wold have cost the department millions each year.
"It's really a sad day for the men and women of Boynton Beach," John Kazanjian, president of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, told WPTV.
He said city council should have taken more time to consider the options with the merger.
"They're very, very disappointed," Kazanjian said. "You know what? A lot of them were gonna get some raises. A lot of them were gonna pay a lot less in health care."
Now that the merger appears to be off the table, the PBA is working on negotiations for its next contract to get Boynton Beach officers better pay and benefits.
"Absolutely, we gotta compare them on what they would've had versus now that we're moving ahead, we gotta get them the same deal," Kazanjian said.