In a 2-1 vote Tuesday, Weber County commissioners approved a one-year contract with The Dicio Group worth up to $120,000 to manage the initiative. That's the same firm that holds a separate contract with the county to handle marketing and promotional efforts for other facets of county government.
Commissioners Gage Froerer and Jim Harvey voted in favor of the new contract, while Commissioner Scott Jenkins voted against it. "I am a believer in The Dicio Group. I think they do a great job," Froerer said.
Froerer sees the deal as a way to foment public trust in the Sheriff's Office, though he thinks commissioners will need to closely monitor the results it yields. He also lauded the efforts of Sheriff Ryan Arbon, who took office last year, to increase transparency in the department. Neither Arbon nor other Sheriff's Office representatives took part in Tuesday's discussion.
The county is in the third year of its initial contract with Dicio, worth up to around $95,000 a year. Per that deal, Dicio aids commissioners and other departments in promotion of county initiatives, efforts and programs. The Salt Lake City-based firm also helps with social media, produces promotional videos and interacts with the media on county issues.
Per the new contract, renewable for up to an additional two years, Dicio will manage social media for the Sheriff's Office, help produce videos, provide press training, handle crisis communication initiatives, launch a "public trust campaign" and more. The deal is worth up to $10,000 a month for Dicio, though the company will only be paid for actual services rendered, which will have to be itemized.
"The sheriff oversees quite a bit, and a lot of the things he oversees, the public takes a great interest in and would like to know what's going on," said Christoper Crockett, deputy Weber County attorney. The aim, according to the agreement, is "to increase transparency, foster public trust and educate" the public about the things the sheriff's office does related to law enforcement, the county jail, animal control and more.
Jenkins was initially skeptical about the first contract with Dicio, though he later came to support the arrangement with the firm. But he couldn't get past the the potential $120,000 cost of the deal to handle marketing for the Sheriff's Office.
"I like to support the sheriff a lot. But when he puts figures in the amount of 120 grand ... I'm choking on it," Jenkins said. "I have a hard time voting aye on something like this when it's so open-ended."
Other county contracts for service with the private sector have caused friction at times among prior slates of county commissioners.