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Plans for new Police Department detained
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The view for McMinnville Police Department won’t change anytime soon. A proposed project is likely on hold, as well as a plan to expand the department by two new officers. 

According to Alderman Everett Brock, who is Finance Committee chair, the plan to build a new Police Department building overlooking Pepper Branch Park could be placed on hold until the city can strengthen its current financial situation.

“That project is probably on hold for a year at least,” said Brock. “It depends on cost and financing. I am only speaking for me. The board makes that decision. We will be OK in two years if we address these issues now.”

Officials are currently considering $900,000 in cuts to the city’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-20, a recommendation by Finance Committee members to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Without those, the city will end the year on June 30, 2020 with $1.7 million. 

“The financial strain that proceeding with the Civic Center project has placed the city in is going to have a ripple effect on other projects for some time,” said Alderman Mike Neal, of the $10 million project. “It appears that meeting the debt service for the Civic Center project this year is going to also cancel out the city’s plan to do much-needed paving of many of our streets. Everett told the board that we could afford the Civic Center project, but we are seeing now that we really could not as we witness the financial strain it’s putting on the city’s finances and the delaying of more important projects.”

If the entire $10 million is spent, the debt service payments will be approximately $750,000 a year for 20 years. 

Brock denies the Civic Center project is the reason for the city’s current financial strain. 

“The Civic Center did not add that much to the deficit this year,” said Brock. “The debt service is a small factor. We just have to cut back on our day-to-day spending. We have gotten used to giving the departments anything they want and we have to reign that in. To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, a billion here a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking serious money.” 

In four of the last five years, the city has spent a combined $2.5 million more than it has received in revenue.

Neal stated, “When you take into account that the city’s expenditures were already exceeding its revenues even before the approval of the Civic Center project as evidenced by the continuing decline of the ending fund balance in recent years, the debt service of this project just amplifies the deficiency.”

Of the $900,000 in proposed cuts, $211,240 is coming from the Police Department’s budget. 

A breakdown

of changes

to the police budget: 

•$106,140 removed from permanent employees 

• $4,000 removed from permanent employees overtime

• $8,150 removed from holiday pay

• $8,880 removed from FICA & Medicare

• $21,700 removed from Health, Life LTD insurance 

• $9,870 removed from Retirement – TCRS

• $4,000 removed from specialized schools 

• $21,000 removed from pre-employment physicals and drug testing

• $3,000 removed from clothing and uniforms

• $3,000 removed from firearm supplies 

• $25,000 removed from communication equipment 

• $1,500 added to office machinery and equipment

• $2,000 added to repair and maintenance of vehicles

According to Police Major Mike Lane, Chief Bryan Denton had originally requested two new officers to increase staff from 36 to 38 and those two officers were removed.

“We also found a mistake in the budget,” said Lane. “We have an officer that patrols parks and their salary should come from the Parks and Recreation Department budget. We still have that officer, but their salary was placed back into the right budget. That $106,140 is for those three officers – two new officers and the parks officer.” 

Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval is needed for the $900,000 in cuts recommended by Finance Committee members.