News

No increase in 2009 police department budget

The Sequim Police Department's 2009 budget totals $8,749 more than it did in 2008, which is an increase of about three-tenths of 1 percent.

Acting Police Chief Sheri Crain said the department will absorb increasing costs through delaying major equipment purchases and operational changes such as the judicious use of overtime.

The public probably won't notice any major changes,

she said.

The city council voted 5-2 at its Dec. 8 meeting to approve the 2009 budget. The updated 2009 budget, including all last minute changes, should be available this week on the city's Web site, www.ci.sequim.wa.us.

The 2009 city budget totals $24.1 million and includes a $7.8 million general fund with a reserve fund of just over

$1 million.

The police department's 2009 budget totals $2,453,981, including $2,038,219 for salaries and benefits, a 7 percent increase from 2008.

The police department is part of the city's general fund, which also embraces virtually everything associated with city government (except utilities), including city manager and council, city attorney, planning and public works, building inspections and parks.

Crain said the police department has 23 employees who include 20 commissioned officers plus two record clerks and the administrative assistant position formerly held by Marci Protze.

One position was lost to attrition in 2007 and another one never was filled, Crain said.

The budget absorbs $135,000 in salary increases included in union contracts plus increased costs for Pen Com, the 9-1-1

dispatch center, Crain said.

"We can't go to zero overtime in 2009. We're a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation.

"It's inappropriate to budget too low. We will monitor overtime closely, even week by week." Crain said.

"I feel it's important to have enough officers on duty to keep officers safe. The days of having only one officer on shift are long gone."

The department will sufficiently staff the Lavender Festival and North Olympic Discovery Marathon despite the continuing growth of those events, she said.

The traffic officer will continue inspecting commercial vehicles but won't work overtime to do them, Crain said.

Traffic emphasis patrols will be funded through the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Traffic Safety Commission and other sources.

The department received $15,000 in such funding last year, Crain said.



Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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