Public safety takes center stage in Grantville
by Clay Neely
Grantville’s mid-year budget amendments were a hot item of discussion at the Grantville City Council meeting on Monday, particularly in the public safety arena.
Grantville Police Chief Doug Jordan expressed his department’s need for two new police cruisers due to the condition of both of the 2009 models. Each cruiser currently shows more than 106,000 miles.
“Our warranty is covered up to 100,000 on the drivetrain. After that it starts costing us,” said Jordan. “We’re about to have to put a motor in one of those 2009s. We’d be looking at around $5,000 dollars to replace it.”
Councilmember Cooks expressed his reservations on the matter.
“I think it would have been more appropriate if this was done through a workshop so we could discuss the individual needs of the police department and then listen to our discussions. I would appreciate it if you did this under a different format so we could sit down and discuss it,” said Cooks.
“That’s why we’re here,” said Sells. “(Jordan) is hurting for two new cruisers and we need more than two cars on the road at one time.”
“With the department that we have now, we’re doing 50 percent more of the work than we did last year,” said Jordan. “The police department is actually going to be self-sufficient. You’re basically loaning me this money but the police department is making it for the city.”
“The cost of your department exceeds your revenue about a quarter million dollars,” said Cooks. “What I’m saying to you is this, if you need a car, we have money in the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds that no one has even addressed. Go get a car, if that’s what you want. You’ll have one extra car and I think within a certain period of time, you may be able to get some more additional funds and move forward on another. All I’m saying is that we have to take our time on this. It just can’t be off the cuff.”
With $29,000 in Grantville’s public safety fund, that left it up to the council to find the additional $50,000 dollars.
Sells inquired where could the city get the money if the council chose to buy the two new police cars.
“We’ve looked at our retained earnings but also at the $50,000 we appropriated to Bremen’s stormwater management program,” said Grantville City Manager Johnny Williams. “We’ve been putting it in there for two years now and never spent a penny of it and I’m not sure we’re going to.”
“I tell you what. When you start looking at infrastructure issues and you’re deciding to do that to get a car that we already have a car for, I just think this is real haphazard looking for money these kinds of ways which most city councils wouldn’t be voting for because it’s not an emergency,” said Cooks.
“We’re talking about increasing salaries when our crime rate has not increased in the last year,” said Cooks. “Increasing salaries of police officers ...”
“We’re talking about two police cars, Councilman Cooks,” interjected Sells. “If you could stick to the subject, we sure could move a lot quicker.”
“All I’m saying is that I have an opinion. Where else can I express it?” asked Cooks. “I don’t know how you’re doing what you’re doing.”
The motion to spend $79,000 for two new police cars passed with Councilmembers Gomez and Riley voting in favor of the motion while Councilmembers Cooks and Lundy voted against. Mayor Sells broke the tie and the motion passed.
“People, y’all better get ready for a tax increase next year,” said Lundy.
Councilmember David Riley also made a motion to increase the police chief’s salary.
“Compared to what the other chiefs make in the area, this is still a little bit low,” said Riley, “I’m proposing to move him to a $50,000 a year salary. He works 24/7 and has proven over the last year that he can handle this job and will move this city forward.”
Jordan currently makes $45,000 as Grantville police chief.
“When you came on board as chief, you asked us to give you the job at your pay instead of demanding your predecessor’s pay, which we thought was appropriate since you were coming on board without chief experience,” said the mayor. “We’re now a year beyond that and, in my opinion, you’ve been out there in the field doing all you can. We can always get a hold of you and for those reasons, I’m in favor.”
Williams also gave a glowing endorsement.
“This chief has done an outstanding job,” said Williams. “When I came here two years ago, I interviewed each and every person in the police department and we had serious problems with everybody. That whole situation has completely flip-flopped and now everyone respects the chief and works well with him. He’s out there anytime you need him. He’s an outstanding leader and he’s doing a great job. I can certainly recommend this.”
The motion to raise Jordan’s pay was passed unanimously.