The Jamestown Police Chief has concerns over cuts or under-funding of several areas of the department’s budget.
Chief Tim Jackson, presenting to City Council, said training and instruction was only funded with $30,000 when $60,000 was requested. He said as of October 28, the department was $25,205 over budget for that line and he anticipated similar numbers for 2023.
Jackson said funding for special operations, or the SWAT team, was only funded with $16,500 when $35,000 was requested, “As I’m sure everybody knows, we used the SWAT team a lot more this year. And we continually use our SWAT team. This past weekend we used them again. And we’ve definitely have shown an increased need to use the team. As of October 28 of this year, we are over our allocated amount by $10,022.41.”
Jackson said the K9 Handler compensation, which New York State mandates a minimum wage rate, was under-budgeted with only $10,000 allocated. He said with minimum wage rising to $14.20 in 2023, he estimates the actual compensation cost will be $15,549.
Jackson said he and City Fleet Manager Pat Monaghan put together a police vehicle and equipment replacement schedule spreadsheet, including vehicles that were recommended to be replaced for 2023.
He said none of those requested vehicle replacements were included in the proposed budget, “And we created that spreadsheet so we wouldn’t end up in the situation we ended up in last year. Some of our vehicles, to be frank, I don’t know if one or two of them are going to pass inspection.”
Monaghan said while he was grateful for the funding previously approved by Council to replace some patrol cars this year, there needs to be a regular replacement schedule so that they can avoid having to replace major components on the vehicles, “I can tell you that on four-year old vehicles, we’ve replaced the engine and transmission on them. And that’s in spite of regular, aggressive preventative maintenance programs. It’s just, those vehicles are subjected to everything they tell you should never do to a vehicle. Consider that they run 365 days a year, 24-7, under extreme conditions. And it’s just something that, by the time the third year of these vehicles is up it’s time to replace them.”
Finance Chair and Council Member at Large Kim Ecklund asked why the cuts were made with City Comptroller John Sellstrom replying that he would get back to her with that information.
Council Member at Large Jeff Russell expressed concern that the cuts to the SWAT team could result in team losing its state certification, which Chief Jackson said is possible.
Deputy Fire Chief Matt Coon also presented his budget, with few concerns. Russell asked if grant funding could be used to replace turn-out gear, but Coon said they rarely meet requirements as one of the grants requires gear to be 14 years old and the department goes through equipment at a much faster rate than that.
The last budget presentations to Council will be by the City Department of Development and the Fenton History Center on Monday, November 14.
However, council members can begin to pre-file budget amendments as soon as Wednesday, November 9.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 16 and is anticipated to be voted on at the November 28th voting session.