April 28, 2020 – 12 p.m.
By Mayor Brent Streck
After my post yesterday about the open chief position, I received questions and comments that I thought were worth sharing with everyone.
1. Why not just go county wide, it’s cheaper!
Here is a numbers breakdown.
This year (19-20, our fiscal year is July-June) the Mapleton Police Budget was $218,643.73
The price for county wide coverage is $210,000.00 for two full time officers.
So yes it seems less expensive. But you have to look at what we spent, not what was budgeted. Our year to date spent is $144,496.45. That was for 10 months, so an average of basically $14,500.00 per month. So that would add another estimated $29,000.00 to finish the year. So that would mean of police expense this year is an estimated $173.496.45. Countywide would have been $36,503.55 more. Being up front we did not have two officers on staff the entire year so the numbers are lower.
The other issue here is county wide is a fixed expense. So this year we saved $36,503.55 this year. Next year we might not. But at least it’s in our control. Countywide is a fixed cost with an assumed 2% increase per year, good and bad to this. That is why we are still looking at this.
2. We have experienced county deputies that live in town, they can cover!
Pratt has said the officers that live in Mapleton would not necessarily be the ones that cover our town. There are pros and cons to that. He has said he would hire two new officers to cover Mapleton if we go county wide. This would be up to him to decided which of his officers is best to cover.
3. We should try county wide. If it doesn’t work we can just go can back to the way it was!
It is a three-year contract for countywide coverage. If we decide it doesn’t work for us, we would have to start all over – uniforms, cars, people, and everything. Battle Creek tried to go back to local coverage. They were (the numbers I was told) half a million in and could not make it work.
4. If you hire a new chief and it doesn’t work out then what?
This is always a risk that we will have to keep hiring new people. Just like any place of employment, we cannot force people to stay.
5. You (guessing they mean me) want this to stay local because of your pockets!
Not really sure what this means, but I assume they think I am personally making money on this. Right now I have assumed the interim role as police chief per Iowa Code, and I am not being paid a cent for it. I also do not personally gain or lose anything either way the decision is made. So believe me the quicker a decision is made the better for me. I will not however rush into a choice because of it.
6. The budget needs to be lower! It should be $90,000 like 8 years ago!
This is just not possible. Even for one officer, which could not cover the town as needed. To give some perspective on this, Monona County starting pay for officers is $65,000.00. I hear Woodbury County is $95,000. And, there is a whole lot less people applying for these jobs. Even one officer at $50,000 base pay does not include benefits, IPERS, workman’s comp, liability insurance, station, car, and so much more. I also hear the officers don’t need to make this much. No other position in town has to wear a bulletproof vest and deal people at their worst either.
I will say right now we have over 20 applications for the open role. One is local and many others over 20 years experience in law enforcement. I am very surprised at the number of the people applying. But, once again this does not mean we have decided if we are going county wide or staying local. This is a very hard decision that will affect the town long term. We want to make sure we explore every option to the fullest.
We know this is and continues to be a hot topic, and everyone has a strong opinion. A decision will be made and some will not be happy. I myself change my mind about 20 times a day which way is better. We will get through this and decided what is best for Mapleton at this time.
If you have questions, please contact a council member or myself.
(The Mapleton City Council will be discussing police protection at their monthly council meeting on Wednesday, May 13. The meeting will be available for everyone online via gotomeeting.)