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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City police block a city street. (News Tribune file photo)

The Jefferson City Budget Committee reviewed several funding requests Monday evening from the Jefferson City Police Department, including requests to replace more than a dozen police vehicles.

The police department's general fund proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 is nearly $7.8 million. FY2020 begins Nov. 1.

The department submitted 19 pink sheet general fund requests — a total of nearly $739,803 — and none of them were funded in the mayor-approved budget. Pink sheets are funding requests from city departments.

Of the 19 requests, 13 of them were for replacement police vehicles. Each pink sheet requested about $40,630, for a total of approximately $528,190.

The older 13 vehicles have 123,384-151,743 miles on them, according to the pink sheets.

If the vehicles are not replaced, Police Chief Roger Schroeder said, those vehicles are anticipated to average about 140,276 running miles by spring 2020, and those miles do not include idle time.

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Schroeder said it's important the city regularly replaces police emergency vehicles. Not only does increased mileage and years of service increase maintenance costs, it also decreases the vehicles' reliability.

"It's important to have reliable vehicles. It's the officer's office and what you learn in the academy, your very first objective in responding to an emergency is to get there safely," Schroeder said. "We understand the (budget) restraints but (vehicle replacements are) very, very important."

Before the city had budget restraints in 2013, Schroeder said, city officials replaced nine police vehicles each year. With a fleet of about 27 police vehicles, the department did not keep a car for more than three years under this system and most vehicles were replaced before they reached 90,000 miles, Schroeder added.

"If you don't fund nine each year, it doesn't take long to get behind and we are trying to catch up to that after being behind," Schroeder said.

In September 2018, the Jefferson City Council approved nine of the 14 requested replacement police vehicles in the FY2019 budget, which began Nov. 1, 2018, and ends Oct. 31, 2019.

The police department also requested $14,917 to erect a radio tower at 4346 Rainbow Drive to improve radio reception in the Ventura Avenue, Del Ray Avenue and Candlelight Drive area. The pink sheet was not funded in the FY2020 mayor-approved budget.

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Schroeder said it's a serious situation that must be addressed. In one instance, he added, an officer requested assistance but no one knew where the officer was or what he needed due to the lack of radio reception.

The department already owns an 80-foot tower and radio broadcast equipment for the project, according to the pink sheet. The department would need to purchase an antenna, cable, rack and shed, as well as erect the tower, to complete the project, the pink sheet notes.

The department also requested three police officer trainees. Each pink sheet request was for nearly $58,399 — a total of about $175,197. The pink sheets were not funded in the FY2020 mayor-approved budget.

The patrol section has 51 personnel who are responsible for 24/7 response to calls for service and being proactive to detect, investigate and deter crime, Schroeder said. Since the patrol section is driven by calls for service, that limits officers' time to "become immersed in complex community challenges," the pink sheets note.

The additional officers would allow the department to assign more officers to the Community Action Team who will work across multiple shifts, the pink sheet notes.

The Community Action Team consists of specially-trained officers who dive deeper into addressing complex city issues. The team is not call-driven but problem-oriented, the pink sheets state.

The additional officers would allow the Community Action Team to "address complex challenges more efficiently and thoroughly," according to the pink sheet.

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Other pink sheet requests included motorcycle equipment and a full-time property room technician.

The 9-1-1 Communications division has a proposed FY2020 budget of nearly $1.6 million.

The police department submitted one pink sheet for the 9-1-1 division — a $51,460 request to fund a communications operator position. It was not funded in the mayor-approved budget.

A communications operator helps monitor and respond to emergency radio frequencies and telephone calls. The operator also provides information to personnel in the field and works with the police department, Jefferson City Fire Department, Cole County Sheriff's Office and four Cole County volunteer fire districts.

Currently, the 9-1-1 Communications Center has 20 positions. Due to shortages, a supervisor works as an operator most of the time, leaving the supervisor little time for administrative duties, according to the pink sheet.

The FY2020 mayor-approved animal control budget is $670,115.

The police department submitted two pink sheets to fund two part-time customer service specialists/adoption counselors for the animal control division. The total pink sheet requests totaled $22,391 and were not funded in the mayor-approved budget.

The FY2020 proposed school resource officer budget includes $681,735, and the proposed budget for Mustang is $194,940.

The overall proposed mayor-approved budget for FY2020 is more than $65.1 million. The general fund budget for FY2020 is more than $32.9 million.

The Budget Committee will continue its yearly budget review process at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 320 E. McCarty St.

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