The Jefferson City Council is continuing its 2014 budget discussions, going through each city department to see if any changes need to be made.
At the Budget Committee meeting Monday, council members listened to presentation from the Police Department, Public Works Department and other more administrative departments, such as the city attorney, the city administrator and municipal court.
The council made no changes to any of the department budgets Monday, but indicated they would be willing to look at ways to fund one request from the Police Department for a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which is estimated to cost $450,000.
City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus said the replacement of the HVAC system is a priority, but the city simply can't afford it this year.
"It's just too big of a pill to swallow on this budget," Nickolaus said.
Chief Roger Schroeder said the system has been an issue since he started with the department.
"When I came in '99 there were complaints about headaches and things of that nature," Schroeder said. "It's just a very serious problem."
Nickolaus said the council probably should look at funding the request through the half-cent capital improvement sales tax in the future. Council members asked the interim finance director to look at a potential funding plan and whether the project could be done in phases.
The new HVAC system was one of two pink sheet requests made by the department. Pink sheets represent departmental requests that have gone unfunded in the proposed budget.
Schroeder said the other pink sheet request has since been funded and is moving forward. That request, for a new uninterrupted power supply unit at a cost of $45,000, is being funded in part from savings within the Police Department and a contribution from the city's IT Department.
In going through the department's budget, 3rd Ward Councilman Ken Hussey asked whether overtime costs have been the result of roughly five vacancies in the department. Schroeder said with military leave and extended medical leave, the department actually is operating with 12 vacancies right now, but couldn't say whether overtime costs are a result of the vacancies and any answer would be speculation.
When asked whether he has concerns about the level of service the department will provide considering the vacancies, Schroeder said they will try to shield the public from the fact that the department is short staffed.
"Will our community recognize less service? I hope not," Schroeder said. "Will we recognize the sacrifices that we have to make internally? Yes we will, we already are."
"We are a people service."