WATERFORD --— Stanislaus County is about to cut Waterford a $400,000 check.
Waterford sent the county money over many years to pay for law enforcement overtime; the money went unused and the city says it's an important part of its push to build a government center.
Stanislaus County spent some of the money already, and it's changing contracts with the four cities that hire the Sheriff's Department for police services to avoid future disputes.
Waterford has contracted the Sheriff's Department for police services since 1998. Each year, the city paid extra money into a fund. Undersheriff William Heyne said the fund was intended to pay for overtime or resources in case the city had a big crime event.
That hasn't happened, so the city had a little more than $400,000 sitting in the fund.
Heyne said his department spent some of the money on projects to improve their warrants and property storage areas. "We hold all their warrants at the main office," he said. "We also hold all their property, their evidence."
But the city wanted to use the money toward its government center. The center, originally envisioned to house a new City Hall, library, police station and sheriff's substation, is now down to just a police station.
County Chief Executive Officer Rick Robinson, Heyne and Supervisor Bill O'Brien attended last week's City Council meeting to address the issue.
"We had money left in the fund balance," Heyne said. "We were going to use that money for infrastructure, since some of our officers will use (the center). (The city) wanted to have the money. There was debate over whether or not they're entitled to it."
City Manager Chuck Deschenes said he couldn't comment on the "delicate" negotiations between Waterford and the county, but said: "Hopefully, it's resolved. We're still waiting to see."
Stanislaus County Chief Operations Officer Patty Hill Thomas said that Robinson included a recommendation to pay Waterford $445,000 in the midyear budget report the Board of Supervisors will consider next week.
Deschenes said the City Council would like to begin work on the new government center this year.
"We can't afford to do the whole thing," he said. "We're evaluating if we can do a police station."
The Sheriff's Department initially wanted to put a substation in the center to run operations on the county's east side. The county's troubled finances probably put an end to that, Deschenes said.
Heyne said the county has changed its contracts with the cities it serves to balance the accounts at the end of each year, rather than leaving money in a rainy-day fund.
"In the 12th month, we true up the contract so there's no money left over," he said.
Both Heyne and Deschenes said the debate won't affect the positive relationship the city and the county have.
"There are no issues at all," Heyne said. "Now it's just in the hands of the county CEO working with the city of Waterford to get them the money."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.