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      Saginaw sheriff says no to merger proposal

      No deal. Saginaw County sheriff William Federspiel says heâ??s rejecting the proposed merger between the sheriffâ??s office and the city of Saginawâ??s police department.

      Sheriff Federspiel says there are two reasons heâ??s rejecting the proposal. First, he says, the city managerâ??s proposal of 80 deputies isnâ??t sufficient to patrol the streets of Saginaw.

      "My answer is still no,â?? says Federspiel.

      Federspiel says the city managerâ??s proposal just isnâ??t feasible.

      "It wouldn't cut it three months ago; it's not going to cut it today,â?? says Federspiel.

      The proposal to merge the departments comes as the city manager tries to close a $3.2 million budget gap.

      "This option affords us the most number of officers at a cost we can afford and so that makes sense given our financial situation here in Saginaw,â?? says Darnell Earley, city manager of Saginaw.

      But Federspiel says the city needs at least 100 deputies on the streets.

      "I don't think 80 full-time officers and four part-time officers is a sufficient number to patrol the city of Saginaw with the crime and the calls for service,â?? says Federspiel.

      Plus the city is under contract with the Saginaw Police Officerâ??s Association for at least another year.

      "That's another issue entirely that I have to deal with,â?? says Federspiel.

      "They're violating our contract, the city is, by even attempting to go over there and negotiate with, subcontract with the sheriff. We have a contract with the city, they can't do that,â?? says Doug Wortley, president of the Saginaw Police Officerâ??s Association.

      "I've asked the unions and the city to sit down and take a look to see what they can do. If they're all willing to come to agreement to come over to this office, I'd be happy to sit down and negotiate,â?? says Federspiel.

      But the union president says, fat chance but Earley says heâ??s open to a conversation.

      "Darnell's answer is always no. It's his way or no way, that's just the way he operates,â?? says Wortley.

      "I'm open to options,â?? says Earley.

      The union president and the acting police chief say they're drafting proposals. The city manager says heâ??s all ears. The battle is far from over. The county commission has yet to take up the matter. Commissioners on the courts and public safety committee will continue discussions in March. Should the board approve the plan, Saginaw city council members would also need to give their final approval.