OAKLEY -- Officials presented the City Council on Tuesday with a description of how they plan to determine whether it makes financial sense for Oakley to set up its own police department or continue paying the county to provide those services.

A third option on the table is to set up a police department that is neither fully independent nor run solely by another agency.

Oakley is spending about $7.7 million of the approximately $8.2 million it has budgeted for police services on its contract with the county Sheriff's Office and that number will be going up: The city expects that it will have to shell out just over $600,000 more to the county in 2014-15 for the same level of service.

The research into alternatives will be done in four stages, the first of which is already under way. City staff members have looked at how other agencies have done similar studies and whether the state's 50 safest cities have in-house police services or contract for them. They found that 33, including Oakley, rely on other agencies to perform public safety duties on their behalf.

The city also has surveyed other police departments in the region to find out what operations they typically perform themselves and whom they hire to do whatever work they don't.

In the second phase of this approximately yearlong research project, Oakley officials will talk to municipalities that have moved away from contracted services to learn what steps are involved in the transition to independence as well as how long the process took.

During the third stage, the city staff also will consider the possibility of collaborating with other cities to set up a Joint Powers Authority, a separate government entity that would enable them to save money by pooling resources such as personnel and equipment.

The final phase will involve summarizing the findings, which will include comparing the costs of each of the three options.

Finance Director Paul Abelson noted that at this juncture the city will make a point of soliciting Oakley residents' opinions on what kind of police department they want, although City Manager Bryan Montgomery said there is nothing stopping them from letting the city know now what they think of police services.

Reach Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.