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City council approves staffing plan for police department

Savings will provide salary increases for officers

Staff writer

The Peabody City Council’s finance and ordinance committee presented a final report and recommendation about staffing the Peabody Police Department at the March 30 meeting.

After meeting with Chief Bruce Burke for several months, reviewing staffing and pay scales for area departments, the committee developed a plan to fund additional officers and increase the salary for the chief’s position.

“We pay our officers less than other communities and the county,” committee member Tom Schmidt said. “That is one of the reasons that we lose good officers after we pay for training and they stay for the mandatory one year. They can make better money somewhere else.”

The committee recommended that the council accept its proposal to create a full-time patrol officer position staffed by part-time officers. As long as part-time officers work no more than 1,000 hours a year, the city is under no obligation to pay benefits such as KPERS or health insurance.

“The best case scenario would be to have one person available to work 20 hours a week,” Schmidt said.

The city could keep the chief of police position and one full-time patrol officer. Staffing the third officer position with part-time help would save the department $18,000 a year.

The finance committee’s recommendation included salary increases across the board to make the positions competitive with other communities. Such increases are not based on merit, but are “market adjustment” raises for the purpose of making the positions more attractive to job candidates.

The chief’s position would take the largest salary increase because it was not included in the ‘market adjustment’ increase the council made for city employees a year or so ago.

Burke has been paid a salary of $42,120. The proposed increase will increase the salary for his position to $51,000.

The recommendation passed the council unanimously and is effective with the next pay period.

In other business:

  • The council reviewed a letter from Kevin Schmidt of Lee’s Summit, Mo. Schmidt is willing to take care of the nuisance issue at his father’s property at 509 Locust St. The council approved a resolution to proceed with “the repair or demolition” of nuisance structures on the property, but agreed unanimously to allow Schmidt 30 days to work on the property. City Administrator Mac Manning was instructed to contact him about the council’s extension and encourage him to keep in touch. Progress on the property will be reviewed after the extension period is over.
  • A bid from EMC Insurance for the city’s public liability, buildings, and automobile policies was discussed. The bid was $5,383 less than a quote from W.E. Avery Insurance of Peabody. After discussion about budget constraints and keeping the city’s business in the community, the council voted to purchase insurance from EMC for 2011-12.
  • Peabody Main Street and Economic Development Director Shane Marler told the council that the closing on the Baker buildings was March 30. He also noted that the city had completed the process with the state to demolish the Butler house even though it is in the historic district. The city will seek bids for that project.
  • Marler announced that two new businesses will be going into the Farr building on the east side of the business district and that the Sunflower Theater building will be getting a new roof. Main Street grants and loans will help finance each project.
  • Marler presented the completed streetscape plan to the council. The plan will provide an outline for improvements and additions to the downtown area. New planters will be installed downtown soon. The council approved the streetscape plan.
  • Public works director Darren Pickens announced the burn pit would remain open in April, but the city would not be allowed to burn because of Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Environmental Protection Agency restrictions.
  • Council members approved a maintenance agreement for the overhead doors at the city shop.
  • Pickens requested that before the city and Indian Guide personnel try to reach an agreement on a parking area north of the apartment complex, they meet with J&J drainage to review the storm drains at the intersection of Fifth and Olive streets.
  • David Scott received permission from the city to use a city-owned lot across from Legacy Park for the annual Easter egg hunt sponsored by the nursing home.
  • Manning warned council members that more delinquent water accounts and shut-offs are being seen and the council may have to explore alternative payment plans in the future. He attributed the problem to the economy.

The next council meeting is 7 p.m. Monday.

Last modified April 7, 2011

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