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FM police chief seeks funds, for training, new Tasers

February 16, 2017 GMT

Police Chief Tim Sittig is asking for an increase in the staff development budget to pay for additional training of younger officers and refresher training for the veteran officers.

Sittig made his request Monday night during the Fort Madison City Council’s work session dedicated to drafting the city’s 2017-18 budget.

From the Emergency Tax Levy, Sittig is requesting two new cars to replace two of the older, more costly ones he says need more expensive repair and upkeep. He has set up a committee “to spec out a new car that will become the new standard police car for the Department.”

He says “by standardizing the fleet, we also standardize the equipment that goes into the car. This equipment can be switched out numerous times before it needs to be replaced.”

The police chief also hopes to replace one-third of the Tasers which have aged out of service, are no longer supported by the company, and cannot be repaired. His goal is to replace one third of them in each of the next three years.

Sittig is looking to increase the Reserve Unit to approximately 10 Reserve Officers as well as initiate a Citizens Police Academy. Overall, he is looking at a budget request of $2,139,170, which is $60,590 over the revised 2016-17 budget.

Budgeted for 19,

but paying for 20

An issue that sparked a lot of discussion Monday night was the department’s number of sworn officers. The department is authorized to have 19 officers, but has been working with one additional, unbudgeted position that is costing the Department about $110,000 per year. This is the result of hiring of the new police chief from outside the ranks when the prior chief returned to his previous position as a captain. The department is budgeted for four captains and paying for five.

Varley said the options are to reduce a captain through attrition or to bump the least senior captain back to patrol and bump the patrol officer with the least seniority off the force.

Councilman Chad Cangas reminded the council that when the decision was made to hire outside the department, that they agreed to hold the 20 people until attrition.

Councilman Chris Greenwald agreed, but said he thought they would return to four captains and hold the extra patrolman. Sittig said that bumping one captain back to the ranks wouldn’t save all that much money.

Fire Department

Fire Chief Joey Herren is asking for $1,661,420 for the next fiscal year, which is about 3.5 percent over the 2016-17 revised budget, but less than $5,000 more than the adopted 2016-17 budget.

Herren said his department handled 1,476 incidents in 2016 compared to 1,420 in 2015. His plans for the new budget year are to continue to develop advanced life support engine companies and work on the Regional Emergency Response Training Center.

“We will also continue to develop plumbing, electrical and building inspections for Firehouse on the iPads,” Herren added.

Further, Herren plans to continue advancement in education, training and succession management. This Department is responsible for emergency preparedness and response to fire, emergency medical, technical rescue, hazardous materials, terrorism and nature emergencies. They develop pre-incident plans, cooperative response drills and training seminars to local commercial and industrial business in the City.

Planning & Development

The Planning and Development budget asking is $164,320, down from the $171,930 budgeted for the 2016-17 year. The current year’s expenditure included $139,548 for the cost of demolition and removal of the dilapidated building at 1136 Ave. H, along with $64,000 for the dump fee. Because of this huge expense, other smaller demolitions were not completed.

The budget worksheet reads: “If we budget $30,000 a year for demolition, we may recover up to $27,000 of this amount by year three. In 2016, 73 nuisance properties were abated with contractors having to return to these properties an additional 72 times (total).”

This department also has a goal to re-inspect properties every three years. In 2014, 480 inspections were completed; 512 in 2015; and 689 in 2016.

The Building Department is under this umbrella and they work closely with the Fire Chief and the Fire Prevention Bureau to enact and enforce building and fire codes, issue permits, provide inspections and conduct plan reviews along with the rental inspection program.