Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

City council holds off on SRO

August 24, 2006

It was a routine agenda for the Baldwin City Council at Monday's meeting, so much so that the two biggest items were both tabled until the next meeting.

The council was to vote on changes to the city policy manual and approve an interlocal agreement with the Baldwin School District regarding the shared position of School Resource Officer. The city has funded the position completely for the last several years, but the district has agreed to pay for half of it this year.

There was some question regarding that in light of the recently discovered $300,000 shortfall in the district's budget.

"The school board met and discussed this at their meeting (last) Thursday and decided to approve it and fund it," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

Dingman said that the only change in the agreement that the district wanted was an addition referring to board policy regarding cooperation with police officers.

"What does it say?" said Council Member Tony Brown regarding the board policy.

Dingman had not read the policy.

"I want to move forward as quickly as possible on this, but I'd like to see it," said Brown.

Other council members agreed and voted unanimously to table the item until the district policy can be reviewed.

The council also tabled action on the revisions to the employee policy manual. Adjustments had been made regarding reimbursement for employees taking college courses and the grievance procedure. The grievance procedure that was in the manual was questioned by City Attorney Matt Hoy and he suggested using the same procedure as the Douglas County Commission. He also said that the policy wasn't necessary, but the council wanted one in place.

"I think it's the right thing to do in regards to ethics," said Brown.

Council Member Nancy Brown agreed.

"Something that is written and published gets away from someone thinking they're being picked on," said N. Brown.

The council did approve unanimously a resolution authorizing Dingman to submit a grant application for the Safe Routes to Schools program.

"Safe Routes to Schools is a new federal program administered by the Kansas Department of Transportation," said Dingman. "The purpose is to improve infrastructure used by students in walking and/or biking to schools and focuses on a 2 mile radius around each school.

"Considering the schools within our city, this area could conceivably cover the entire city limits," he said. "The goal of the program would be to improve and/or add sidewalks to our city with grant funds."

Approved projects are funded 100 percent by the grant with reimbursement up to $250,000. The applications for the first phase of the project is today. It is for $15,000 to be used for public information, public input and studies around each school building to determine was improvements are needed. Monday's approval puts that in motion for today's deadline.

"We've been talking about these improvements at the safety committee for a long time," said N. Brown. "It's good to see that we will be able to make these improvements without it costing us."

The council also heard a report from its auditor regarding suggested changes. The city's audit has been completed and all funds were found to be in good order. The auditor did make some suggested changes. Those are:

1. Controls should be implemented to authorize and record access to ticket books used by the police department.

2. 2. Including a policy addressing fraud in the city's policy manual.

3. Timesheets should be reviewed and the employee's authorized city supervisor should sign the timesheets upon approval.

4. Adjusting accounting and internal control policies.

5. City council members receive training in the basics of governmental financial oversight, accountability and fiduciary responsibilities.

The accountant said none of the suggestions were the result of any problems in the city. The are suggestions that are being made to all cities.

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