|Finance, Safety committee members fact-find|
|Tuesday, December 10, 2013 9:18 PM|
By NANCY SPENCER
DELPHOS — Members of the Delphos Finance and Safety committees met Monday to gather more information to make decisions on the 2014 Budget. Deficit spending of $58,203 still needs to be addressed.
Finance Committee Chair Joe Martz opened the meeting with a question concerning overtime in the Fire and Rescue Department.
“How are you guys look as far as overtime for the rest of the month?” Martz asked acting Fire Chief Kevin Streets.
“We are looking at about $4,800 in overtime,” Streets began. “Platoon Chief (Don) Moreo is having surgery on Dec. 17 and I’m going out for surgery tomorrow. That leaves Bunny Carder, Roger Haehn and Kirby Miller to fill shifts. That is going to create overtime.”
Members also asked about the Marion and Washington township service contracts for 2014. Mayor Michael Gallmeier said a contract with no increases for the next three years has been given to the township trustees.
“We have talked to both townships and they have the paperwork,” Gallmeier said. “We do not have contracts with either. Their contracts expire on Dec. 31.”
When committee members learned Delphos would respond to both townships on calls due to the statewide mutual aid mandate regardless if a contract was in place, they asked Auditor Tom Jettinghoff to propose a per-call rate in case the contracts are not signed by the end of the year.
Martz also inquired about the Safer Grant the city applied for through U.S. Homeland Security. Streets said the department has received verbal acceptance and with the holiday, it’s just a matter of when.
“They make announcements each Friday and we’ve been through three rounds,” Streets said. “There are quite a few rounds left. It could be now, it could be March.”
Jim Knebel asked Jettinghoff the status of the loan-payment deferment for the water and wastewater plants and the reservoir. Jettinghoff said the deferment is completed and he received a new payment schedule.
The committee also discussed water and sewer rate increases to generate revenue. A 7-percent residential/3.5-percent industry increase would generate $266,000; a 3-percent increase on both would raise $116,000; and a 5-percent increase across the board would generate $194,000.
Mark Clement asked what would happen if rate increases were put off until 2015.
“With lower funds coming in, we’d have to disperse funds from the General Fund, which isn’t healthy, either,” Jettinghoff said.
Also looking to create revenue, Rick Hanser talked about the .25-percent income tax increase that may find its way onto the May Primary Ballot.
“That increase would solidify the Parks and Rec budget. If it isn’t passed, the Parks and Rec will be the first to be looked at. We have to provide essentials,” he said.
The committee will propose to pass a temporary budget in regular council session at 7 p.m. Monday.
The meeting adjourned and Safety Committee Chair Josh Gillespie took the head chair.
Gillespie asked Police Chief Kyle Fittro to take the podium to answer questions concerning contracting with Allen County for dispatching services.
“I’d like to start by mentioning how many duties dispatchers have that are unrelated to dispatching,” Fittro began. “I found at least 45 items that are clerk/secretarial-related the dispatchers also take care of. We would have to have two part-time clerks at 30 hours each and I’m still not sure they could get it all done. This is mandatory record-keeping.”
Knebel asked for a report on the state of Delphos from Fittro’s point of view.
Fittro said he would like to see officer Dale Metzger replaced and outlined officer Ben Becker’s effort with the task force which generated 200 felony indictments, 60 people arrested for drug trafficking and 20 home raids. Becker no longer serves on the task force.
“This is significant progress and now with our numbers, we are going to fall behind,” Fittro said. “We are like the garbage man. You put the garbage out and we come and take it away and everything is fine — until we don’t take it away. Then you notice. We have an opiate issue — heroin and opiate-based pills. Those drug arrests make a huge impact on the secondary crimes like theft, assaults and domestic violence. Our job is to be a suppressive agent and you are taking that away from us with our low staffing.”
Fittro said with the current nine full-time officers, including himself and a detective, there will be times only one officer is on duty.
“When you have a lone cop working and a domestic violence call comes in, they have two choices: they can respond and handle it alone or call someone and wait for a second officer. Both are correct,” Fittro said. “They could have very different outcomes. Some situations are not acceptable for one officer.”
The committee agreed that it was best to have two officers on duty at all times. Gillespie asked if dispatching was eliminated at the local level, would it put another officer on the street.
“It depends on how much money we are getting back,” Fittro said. “If we don’t replace Dale, we have the nine officers but I can’t perform my duties and be on the street and the detective is needed in the office as well. That leaves seven guys to cover three shifts, seven days a week. We have six auxiliary, five with full-time jobs who can’t work certain shifts and one who can be dedicated to the job but will have to be kept below 30 hours starting in January because of Obamacare. We need 11 full-time officers to do the job.”
Fittro also noted his most recent budget was $122,881 less than his 2013 budget.
“The police department has been cut and cut. The bargaining unit has worked with us and let us do some things that are against contract to survive and I think the police department has given enough. It has to come from somewhere else if you want a functioning police department,” he concluded.
Hanser said he saw the decision as either having 11 officers on the streets or having dispatchers.
“We have to make a decision,” he said to his fellow committee members.