Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser on Friday submitted his resignation and plans to leave the job on Aug. 17.
Walser, 66, a leader in the campaign to improve safety on treacherous U.S. 2, has served as Sultan’s chief for the past 11 1/2 years.
“Everyone realizes a point in their life when they ought to move on or retire out or do something different,” Walser said.
The announcement came the day after the Sultan City Council voted to study a deal with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to provide full-time police service. The move would disband the Sultan police force.
The chief said his resignation has nothing to do with the decision.
Walser, chairman of the U.S. 2 Safety Coalition, said he plans to continue in that capacity and keep fighting for improvements to the highway.
“U.S. 2 is a real priority with me, and I’m going to stay active,” he said.
Walser said he has checked into other options for his next stage of life as well, but wouldn’t say what.
“I’m not the kind of guy who can sit around and watch grass grow or the world turn,” he said.
Before coming to Sultan, he served for 281/2 years in the Washington State Patrol, rising to the rank of lieutenant before leaving.
Walser wouldn’t comment on the City Council’s 5-2 vote Thursday to study contracting with Snohomish County for its police services.
The city also will study contracting with the county for part-time, on-call service when needed, which would keep the Sultan department intact.
The department exceeded its $1 million-plus budget by $185,000 last year and has spent beyond its budget by more than $100,000 every year since 2003, according to City Councilwoman Kristina Blair.
“That indicates to me a budget problem,” said Blair, who voted in the majority Thursday. “Ultimately, I think we owe it to our taxpayers” to take a detailed look at the issue, she said.
At the council’s request, the city last month received a proposal from the sheriff’s office for providing full-time service, officials said.
The county’s proposal for providing service in 2008 totaled $1.38 million, $122,000 more than the city’s anticipated budget of $1.26 million.
Mayor Ben Tolson opposes any move that would disband the department.
“We can provide a higher level of service for less money,” he said.
City Councilman Jim Flowers, who voted in the minority, said, “the issue for me always has been about local control.”
Residents at meetings have come down strongly on the side of keeping the force, officials said. Blair, however, said there’s a “silent majority” of residents who want more information.
Walser said he’s been hugely appreciative of the support he and his department have received from residents of the community.
“I really love the Sky Valley,” said Walser, who lives in Monroe with his wife, Donnetta, who is the mayor of that city.
“The people out here are just sterling. They’re just really nice folks,” he said.