NEWS HEADLINES

Rhome City Council eyes surplus budget

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014

In planning for the upcoming fiscal year, the Rhome City Council is looking at a budget deficit of more than $300,000 for the court/police department.

But they plan to spend less than the projected revenue in the other accounts – general fund and fire – for an overall surplus budget.

Following a budget workshop Saturday morning, the council is looking at bringing in $2,778,866 while spending $2,753,344.

More than a quarter of those expenditures are for the court/police fund. The city expects to spend $732,423.29 for a department that should generate only $405,000.

The biggest increase is $20,000 for a “new auto loan,” which was budgeted at $25,531 this past year. The city will again pay $25,531 on the note for an already purchased Chevrolet Tahoe, and the additional $20,000 will go toward purchasing another vehicle to establish a rotation.

“I’m taking the older vehicles, and those are the only ones that are going to be in service. I’m trying to stretch these vehicles as far as I can,” Police Chief Brandon Davis said. “With that being said, we have three vehicles that are either approaching or over 200,000 miles, and 200,000 miles on a police vehicle and personal vehicle are two different things.”

In the new system, the department plans to purchase a vehicle every two years and remove the most worn vehicle from the fleet.

“At 200,000 miles, I don’t think I’d want to go down a highway at 100 miles an hour,” said Ronnie Moore. “The front end can’t be very strong.”

The budget also sets aside $10,000 – up $3,000 from last year’s budgeted amount – for vehicle repairs.

“That has increased for obvious reasons,” Mayor Louis Godfrey said. “There wasn’t really anything being done to them [the vehicles].”

There is also a line item for a $14,000 note payment for COPsync, an information-sharing law enforcement network that is expected to drastically reduce the number of man-hours used in data input.

The software “efficiently gathers information at the point of incident and immediately shares data with officers on the network.” It can also serve as a safety alert system, with a GPS-based vehicle locater and automated ticketing features.

The council also OK’d an increase of $2,000 for a total of $3,000 for uniforms.

“What we’re moving to is the vest carriers where they come in to work at the office, they can take their vest off,” Davis said.

Davis also requested an increase of $4,000 – up from $1,000 – for training that includes management, a chief’s course, a field training officer, bike school, etc.

Allotments for equipment repair also increased from $1,000 to $5,000, while money budgeted for equipment itself jumped $1,498 to $10,000.

In addition, anticipated improvements budgeted at $20,000 to the police station will come from the general fund.

This will remove and replace insulation in the ceiling that has been “contaminated with cat urine.”

Savings made in the department include reductions in gas and utilities.

With a couple of months left in the current fiscal year, the department has spent $32,126.22 of the budgeted $35,000 amount for gas. However the police chief believes his department will stay under the $31,200 allotted for next year.

“I don’t think there is any reason why we would go over $31,000, especially since the vehicles are no longer take-home vehicles and there is going to be a required two hours of foot time per shift,” Davis said.

More on the budget for the city of Rhome will be included in an upcoming issue.

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