Among the cast of hundreds who attended last night's standing-room-only meeting of the Pompano Beach Commission were several leaders of a neighboring city that has a Broward Sheriff's Office contract coming up for renewal this year: Deerfield Beach.
City commissioners Marty Popelsky, Joe Miller and Bill Ganz were all in the audience, as was Mayor Peggy Noland and interim city manager Burgess Hanson, who must have been curious to hear the presentation of his counterpart in Pompano Beach, Dennis Beach. The recently hired Pompano Beach manager told commissioners that opting out of its partnership with BSO in favor of a city police department could mean savings of $4 million per year. (Here's Beach's memo.)
So did Beach sway the Deerfield Beach officials?
"Let's just say it was very educational," says Commissioner Ganz, who wouldn't elaborate until he had a chance to study the issue himself.
"I just went there to see what it was all about," says Commissioner Popelsky. His reaction to Beach's proposal? "I'm not commenting on that."
Mayor Noland is also playing it close to the vest. She didn't return a phone message left for her this morning.
Currently, Deerfield Beach pays BSO $17 million annually, which includes 162 jobs. That's smaller than Pompano Beach, which has a $31 million budget and a staff of 323.
Considering the possibility that Pompano Beach is the first in a line of dominoes, it's no wonder BSO is treating the contract with such urgency. As you can see in this CBS4 video, deputies packed the city chambers and decorated the grounds with signs warning that the end of the BSO contract would bring an increase in taxes and risk an uptick in crime.
At the very least, this issue will test the confidence Beach has in his alliances on the Pompano Beach Commission. Because you can bet that those commissioners are looking over their shoulder, worried about whether BSO contractors will pour money into the campaigns of challengers.