REDMOND, OR -- Redmond City Councilors agree the Police Department needs more officers, but they - so far - have failed to come to a consensus on how to fund the hiring of more staff. At this week's Council meeting, they decided to push any talk of a ballot measure or levy to the fall election; instead, opting to look at prioritizing public safety in the 2018-19 budget. They discussed a proposed $6 monthly utility fee to pay for as many as six new officers, but chose not to impose such a charge right away.
Lt. Curtis Chambers says there is a possibility Council could find the money in the next budget cycle, "They have indicated that they want to hire more officers in that budget but that will come at a cost to other city departments. What that looks like will be determined as the budget process proceeds in the next couple of months." But, he says, "That doesn't solve the revenue problem." Lt. Curtis tells KBND News, "The Police Department is in the same general operating fund as transportation and parks and some capital improvements. Sacrifices will have to be made in other departments, in order to prioritize public safety, with the current revenue that we have." He says shifting money to increase police funding would drastically impact the city's overall budget for years to come, if a new revenue source isn't found, "The bucket is only so large and there are a lot of hands."
The Budget Committee will go line-by-line, this spring, to determine whether money is available in the 2018-19 budget for new staff. If they find the funding, Lt. Chambers believes between one and three officers could be on patrol before the end of the year. While other local law enforcement agencies have struggled to fill vacancies, he says Redmond PD has not had that problem, "We currently, at this moment, have a hiring list that we can pull from the moment we get the okay to start hiring officers. And, assuming that those people are still looking for employment and still desire to work at the Redmond Police Department, we would be able to hire those individuals very quickly in the new budget year, which starts July one."
City Council is still considering a November ballot measure, to ask voters to support a fee or tax increase.