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A dispute between Santa Barbara County, four cities over cost of law enforcement heads to mediation

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The Cities of Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta and Solvang are headed into the last year of a four-year contract with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services.

Talks over how much some Central and South Coast communities should pay for law enforcement services have stalled.

The cities of Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta and Solvang have contracts with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement.

The cities are headed into the final year of their four-year contracts. But, they contend that proposed rate hikes are unreasonable. Officials with the cities say if the current proposal is implemented, cities would in effect be paying 40% more for law enforcement over a two-year period.

The Sheriff’s Office has long argued that what it charges just reflect its costs for providing services. Ongoing negotiations failed to reach an agreement, so now the dispute is headed to mediation.