Archive for Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Council revisits SRO decision

August 20, 2003

Amy Cleavinger is not too happy the School Resource Officer position was cut.

The Baldwin City Council Member told the council Monday she wasn't sure where the funding for the position went.

"I'm confused how we got from point A to point B," she said. "I'm just trying to figure out how the funding got lost."

A month ago, the council re-allocated funds -- about $53,000 -- originally budgeted for the SRO position. The money was instead budgeted for a new fire truck, as well as a new patrol car and police equipment.

Cleavinger said the reason she voted to re-allocate the funds is because she understood the SRO, Suzanne Evinger, had resigned for reasons other than there being no SRO position and thought there was no officer to take over the position. She said she later found out Evinger resigned only because the SRO position was cut.

"It bothers me to no end there's not a school resource officer in the junior high and high school this year," Cleavinger said. "I need to know where the decision was made to pull this funding."

Mayor Ken Hayes and Council Member Ted Brecheisen both said the funding was re-allocated because the Baldwin School District had showed no interest in the SRO and said it wouldn't help fund the position.

"We felt that since this affected everyone district wide, why should the district taxpayers in the city just fund this?" Brecheisen said. "I felt we were probably going to drop the program even if it was in the (city) budget, if they weren't going to help us out."

Hayes said the council directed Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna to talk to the Baldwin Board of Education about helping fund the SRO. He said he expected the district to help contribute to the cost of the position.

Cleavinger said she knew all along the district couldn't afford to help financially.

"We budgeted the entire SRO position," she said. "We had no inkling at all the school was going to pay for it."

Council Member Todd Cohen said the district had lost interest in the SRO and hadn't shown it wanted to support the position.

"I have not heard anything verbally from any school board member in support of it," he said.

"We're not in charge of the schools," he said. "If people really want it, people can contact their schools."

Cleavinger said she was disappointed the council made the decision it did, and said if she had had the correct information last month, she would have voted differently.

"You've got one council member who voted with inaccurate information," she said.

In other business, the city council:

  • Approved in a 4-0 vote to purchase a Pierce fire truck from Midwest Vehicle Professionals for a little less than $152,000.

Cohen said he was concerned the council would make a decision on a fire truck without getting bids first.

"I trust the (fire) chief completely and this may well be the best deal," he said, "but I find it odd we put to bid 18 to 20 thousand dollar police cars, but not go out to bid for a 150 thousand dollar fire truck."

Assistant Fire Chief Larry Francq said getting bids on a fire truck is not the same as getting bids on police cars.

"When we get bids, we get them back built on different chassises," Francq said. "You're starting to compare apples to oranges because you've got totally different vehicles underneath.

"You're going to get a bunch of bids back with exceptions written all over them because you can't meet all specs," he said.

Cohen said he understood, but thought the city needed to have a policy on how it was decided whether purchases went out for bid and reasons why.

"We want to be very confident that we can get the best deal we can," he said.

  • Presented building official Jim Tarwater with a plaque for his 20 years of service to the city. Tarwater will retire as city building official on Aug. 29. He has worked for the city since 1983.

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