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Budget rises as police grants end

By Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Mar 28, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Lebanon’s public safety and police departments will likely see an increase to their budgets for the next fiscal year, in part due to the end of a sizeable grant.

Over the past three years, the police department had received a total of about $876,000 from grants offered by Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, a U.S. Department of Justice entity. 

Last year, the department received about $178,000 from the grant.

That money is about to run out though, and the 2014 COPS grant only covers school resource officers. Lebanon police does not have any SROs, so the department didn’t apply.

During the second of a series of budget work sessions Thursday, Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen said that’s part of the reason for an increase to the department’s requested budget amount.

Mayor Philip Craighead’s proposed salary budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 for the department asks for an increase of more than $156,000 from the current year’s amended amount of about $3.59 million to about $3.75 million.

Bowen said the increase also would allow the department to add a few positions: one detective and four part-time dispatchers, as well as to promote one officer in the traffic unit to corporal.

“We’re asking for one detective to work out of our drug unit,” said Bowen. 

He said the corporal would investigate the city’s major traffic crashes.

“We’ve had two to three vehicular homicides this year,” said Bowen. “They work those just like a homicide.”

He said the additional dispatchers would allow the department to staff at least three dispatchers per shift.

The department’s total proposed budget amount is about $8 million, versus about $7.73 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The public safety department is also seeking a sizeable increase, a total of about $610,000 for the department, versus the current year’s amended amount of about $279,000.

Public Safety Commissioner Mike Justice said several factors come into play for the increase.

Part of the increase is due to the movement of three public safety officers from the police department to the public safety department. The move saved salary and benefit dollars for the police department, but that money must now come from the public safety budget. 

He also hopes to add one public safety technician position.

Additionally, he said he’s asking for $12,000 for maintenance expenses, which includes the cost of a new roof for the public safety building. He said the existing roof is more than 20 years old.

A new expenditure for the department is contractual services for a canine maintenance agreement.

Public safety acquired two K9s from the police department.

Another new expenditure for the department is hazmat expenses.

According to Justice, public safety employees are being certified for decontamination, which means they can clean hazardous-material spills, as well as clean meth labs.

“About 50 to 60 percent of our hazmat is meth,” said Justice.

Although the state will replace items the department uses to clean meth labs, not all of the expenses may be drug-related or reimbursable.

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