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Merger of Rothschild and Everest Metro Police Departments could happen in '14

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Rothschild police
Rothschild police

ROTHSCHILD, WI (WSAU) -  Merging the Rothschild Police Department and the Everest Metro Police Department could happen as early as next year.

An ad hoc committee has been studying the concept. Rothschild approached the Village and Town of Weston and Schofield last year, knowing the two departments already provide mutual aid for each other and knowing Rothschild Police Chief Dean Albrecht is approaching retirement.

Rothschild Village President George Peterson supports the concept, and believes it could provide good service and save money... but he realizes timing is important. He says when Chief Albrecht decides to retire would be the ideal time if they’re going to merge. “If our chief retires, and when he retires, that’s the time to look at it. It makes it easy. We’re dealing with multiple captains and lieutenants. Multiple chiefs? That’s tough.”Peterson says Rothschild, the Village of Weston, The Town of Weston, and the City of Schofield have a very short time to assemble their joint finance committee to work out the details of a buy-in and to reopen officer union contracts. “It’s over the next two or three months. It has to be done before budgets are set for everybody, so it’s a short time frame.”

Can the details be worked out that quickly?

Everest Metro Chief Wally Sparks is confident the municipal leaders and he can do what is necessary in three months time. “Absolutely. You know, I put a draft budget together last year just to have a rough idea on how would it look if you applied a formula and brought them in. All I need is some of the decisions made by Joint Finance. Putting budgets together is nothing new.”Sparks says merging Weston and Schofield worked well, and he believes Rothschild and the other three municipalities will all benefit if this merger goes through. “It works. I think the service level that you get is greater. You do it in a lot cheaper fashion for the citizens, and to me, that’s, at the end of the day, it’s all about can you provide as good or better quality service and try to keep your costs to the bare minimum. That formula has worked for the three communities, and I believe it will benefit Rothschild, also.”

Sparks says Everest Metro and Rothschild have many similarities, and an eventual merger would be a great fit. “I function as lean as we can, and I know Rothschild does to. Our officers share a very similar philosophy, and it’s that community approach and really caring about the community you serve, and to me, that’s the critical issue. When you talk about fit, I think the fit works.”

The Ad Hoc committee is going to set up another meeting within two weeks, and give the four municipalities time to assemble a joint finance committee that can outline financial goals and get more specific with buy-in costs and financial options. They will also meet with their municipal attorneys to start working on the contract language.

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