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HALF MOON BAY -- City officials decided to outsource the local police and recreation departments Saturday. To many, it felt like they were cutting out the city's heart as well.
Police Sgt. Dennis Loubal broke down and wept at the microphone as he struggled to express how painful it would be for him to give up the Half Moon Bay police uniform he'd been wearing for the past 14 years. In spite of that, he said the city ought to contract with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office; it would save the city $509,000 and balance the budget. Loubal and the rest of the sworn officers would retain their jobs under the proposal submitted by the county, but it just won't be the same. "I've been serving this community, and I know I'll be rotated out," he said.
The city tried to cope. It cut or outsourced half its staff, including much of its engineering and public works departments. Employees who remain are required to take 28 furlough days per year. The City Council put a sales tax increase on the ballot as a final bulwark against losing its police department, but voters defeated the measure last year.