The Council was noncommittal, though the city manager said the budget will not allow for hiring new employees.
“When you start talking about personnel, you’re talking about a property tax rate increase,” City Manager Janice Casteel said.
She explained that in the 2013-14 Budget, the city will lose the remaining $911,000 as the fire contract with Bradley County expires. That money was used in the city’s operating budget.
“I’m sorry. I can’t add personnel with the budget I have to work with,” she said.
At-Large Councilman Richard Banks asked Police Chief Wes Snyder to state his needs prior to the March budget meetings. Fire Chief Steve Haun asked for $300,000 to replace the department’s self-contained breathing apparatuses. Since that is a capital need, those are fundable through the 2009 sales tax.
Banks asked the two chiefs to address the Council because the city is obligated to protect the public.
Snyder said, “Today, you are at 1999 staffing levels. What you have working the streets today is the same as you had in 1999 as far as certified, gun-carrying police officers.”
The department has 84 officers, a decrease from 92 in 2006, including two grant positions for school resource officers. The number of officers dropped to 88 with four frozen positions in 2009.
A new officer with training, equipment and benefits costs about $105,000 in the first year. Wages and benefits in the second year are about $59,000.
Casteel said the department will lose four grant positions this fiscal year. Then on June 30, the department will lose two police officers in sectors one and two funded through the Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction Grant.
“We could lose six positions. In addition, we have four police officers and two detective positions that are frozen,” Casteel said. Sixteen positions in all departments are frozen. The assistant police chief and a secretary position were eliminated from the staffing structure. “We’ve had to do this citywide.”
Public Works has frozen a crew and the fire department has four frozen positions.
Snyder said police will still perform their sworn duties, but the staffing shortage puts officers in an uncomfortable position. The amount of overtime paid out was $298,000 according to the last audit. The overtime was for special events such as the Halloween Block Party, Christmas Parade and other events throughout the year. That amount is equivalent to about six police officers.
“But, you’re going to have to have some overtime in your budget,” Casteel said. “No matter who is on staff, you have to have others come in and work.”
“All the problems we’re talking about are things we’ve asked you to do,” said 4th District Councilman David May. “Now we’re reaping what we’ve sown.”
The Council voted 7-0 to approve Ordinance 2013-04 to a 5 percent increase in wastewater rates to obtain financing for the Scope 10 rehabilitation of the wastewater collection system. Under the terms of the ordinance, the Council authorized Cleveland Utilities to apply for a $10 million loan through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation State Revolving Loan Fund Program.
The utility board agreed to loan fund parameters on Feb. 4 to implement the recommended 5 percent increase in wastewater rates. The rate increase will take effect no later than July 1.
The loan agreement includes forgiveness of $451,022 of the principal amount. The current interest rate on the fixed-rate loan is 1.1 percent. The money covers a four-year sewer-line rehab project in the areas of Tinsley Park south to APD 40 between Interstate 75, Keith Street and Blue Springs Road. The utility expects to repair or replace approximately 120,000 lineal feet of sewer main.
The Council approved the following consent agenda items:
- Final Passage of Zoning Ordinance 2013-02 to rezone property at the corner of Foster Lane and 20th Street S.E. from R4 (Mobile Home Parks) to R2 (Low Density Single and Multi-family).
- Zoning Ordinance 2013-06 was moved under new business items on the agenda where it was passed by a 7-0 vote. The ordinance corrects a zoning map error by rezoning 5 acres abutting Morningside Drive N.E. and Pryor Road N.E. near Gale Drive from R1 (Single Family Residential) to R3 (High Density Single and Multi-family) as approved by the planning commission by a vote of 9-0). The property was rezoned to R3 in 2003 but it was incorrectly drawn on the zoning map.
- Final Passage of Zoning Ordinance 2013-03 to rezone 5673 and 5693 Mouse Creek Road N.W. from R2 to CN (Commercial/Neighborhood);
- Resolution 2013-09 for a 2012 tax refund to Hiwassee Mechanical in the sum of $114;
- Resolution 2013-11 for a 2012 tax refund to Norman Dennis Heating & Air Inc. in the sum of $29;
- Resolution 2013-12 - 2012 for a tax refund to South Cleveland Church of God in the sum of $168;
- Reappointment of Dan Hartman, Parks & Recreation Department; Mike Wesson, Development and Engineering and Shane Hayes, Public Works Department, to the Human Resources Committee;
- Reappointment Ray Evans, George Patton and Milton Palmer for an additional one-year term to expire January 2014.
The Council approved the following items under new business:
- Ordinance 2013-05 to abandon a portion of an unopened alley between Chambliss Avenue N.W. and North Ocoee Street north of 23rd Street as requested by Jeff Wolfenden. At-Large Councilman George Poe stated he had an interest in the request because he owns adjacent property.
- Denied passage of Zoning Ordinance 2013-07 to rezone property at 432 Mason Road S.W. and 452 Mason Road S.W. from RA (Rural Agriculture) to CH (Commercial Highway) as recommended by the planning commission by a vote of 9-0.
- Ordinance 2013-08 amended City Code Title 7, Chapter 2 Section 7-210 pertaining to Life Safety Code (p. 53).
Under announcements, city offices and Cleveland Urban Area Transit System will be closed Feb. 18 in observance of Presidents Day.