Jamestown City Council members are requesting more clarification on a proposal to hire new Police Officers and Firefighters.
The proposed hiring is part of public safety investments announced by administration and members of the City Council Public Safety Committee last week. The 1 police officer would be part of a Gun Violence Unit with 2 officers dealing with quality of life issues. The four firefighters would man a second ambulance to address increased EMS calls.
The total cost to the city through 2026 is estimated to be $3,258,000; which includes health benefits. Funding would come from American Rescue Plan monies. The figure is based on the assumption that the police officers would be hired June 1 of this year with the firefighters being hired by August 1, 2022.
Finance Committee Chair Kim Ecklund said no one was “100% objecting to the hiring” but there were questions about impact payments and how they are on the current contract since it’s not a negotiated contract issue, “In addition to, how the plan actually going to be carried out. We’re looking for some more information, Zach [Altschuler], from the Mayor in his original plan. Is it four and three for the four years until 2027, because you say through attrition those positions would be eliminated. Is it going to continually eliminate or as of 2027, we’re making the shift?”
Council President Tony Dolce stated that if the seven positions were kept beyond 2026, when the ARP funding runs out, that it would be a $800,000 addition to the city budget. He said there may be some other revenue sources, “There is some revenue stream for EMS, so that has to be calculated into that $800,000 as well. So, just want to be sure everyone understands that by adding those four positions, that’s a four-year commitment and at that point we have to, we or whoever is here, will have to decide if and how that will be continually funded.”
Council member at large Jeff Russell expressed his concern that the new police officers be used for their intended purpose, “It’s very easy to hire three police officers and they get thrown in the mix of day to day operations. I don’t want to see that happen. I want to see them being utilized exactly for their positions. If they are thrown in with general patrol and they’re not answering these type of calls on a regular basis then it’s going to be a waste of time and money.”
Comptroller Ryan Thompson is to supply council members a list of future retirees in the Police and Fire Departments to show where attrition may also help with keeping the new hires on past 2026.
Thompson also reported on first quarter sales tax revenues, which were 10.8% above first quarter receipts for 2021.
The City received $1,826,608 for first quarter of this year, which is 22.5% of the amount budgeted for 2022. Thompson said there wasn’t concern that the city hadn’t hit 25% of budgeted numbers as first quarter sales tax revenues are often the smaller of the four quarters.
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