GRANDVIEW - As early as July 1, the Grandview Police Department could have two more officers on the streets thanks to the voter passed law and justice tax.
That bit of news was released at last night's Grandview City Council meeting.
According to City Administrator Jim Sewell, the City of Grandview is expecting to receive approximately $95,000 from the collection of the three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax increase that voters passed last fall. He explained that the county plans on beginning collecting the sales tax April 1, but it will take about two months before any of the Valley's cities actually receives any of the funds.
Sewell added that following this year, the City of Grandview will likely receive closer to $165,000 each year through the sales tax increase. He explained that amount is likely to increase by about 3 percent on a year to year basis.
As for how the funds will be spent, Sewell told the city council that the sales tax can not be used to supplant any existing program or operation. He said funds can only be spent on new ventures.
Sewell said in talking with Grandview Police Chief Dave Charvet it became evident that one of his top priorities was simply getting more officers on the street. Charvet wants to add an officer on the road and another to deal solely with drug enforcement in the community.
Sewell said another priority involves hiring a process server, which would help free up police officers, who now serve court papers, as well as help the municipal court run more efficiently.
Hiring more manpower isn't the only priority for the Grandview Police Department. Sewell said there is also a laundry list of capital purchases Charvet would like to see made. Among the items he would like to see purchased are tactical vests, tasers and new carpeting for the police station.
Sewell said now would be a good time to purchase the vests because the city recently received word that it qualifies for a federal grant, which will provide $9,000, half of the total needed, toward the purchase of the tactical vests.
The only other priority Charvet has, for which there is not sufficient funds, is the hiring of a third officer to serve as a student resource officer in the schools.
Councilwoman Pam Horner noted that having a police officer back in the schools is a priority for her.
Councilman Robert Morales echoed Horner's sentiments. He added that without an officer in the schools, the sense of safety isn't where it used to be.
"Officers had quite a presence there," Morales said of the schools.
Charvet added that without an officer in the schools police are dealing with more and more issues after school, including fights and other problems. He explained that these are things that used to be dealt with during the day by the school resource officer.
Sewell said he has done some research on how other communities are funding police officers in schools and found that most of the time the local school district is helping pick up the tab, noting that there are some cities where the school district pays the entire cost of the officer's salary.
He added that the topic of hiring a school resource officer is something the city can continue to research, noting that Council has a joint meeting scheduled with the Grandview School Board later this month. Sewell said that is a topic council members will probably want to bring up at the meeting.
Sewell noted that looking ahead at the next six years with the law and justice tax, the City of Grandview plans to use all of the money made available for law enforcement. He added that there is enough of a cushion currently budgeted that if the city and the school board come to an agreement on funding a police officer in the schools, there will be enough funds to make that happen.
"Our priority was to put officers on the street and that's what we're doing here," Charvet said.
Sewell added the city is hoping to attract some lateral transfer officers to the new positions. He explained that if police officers are hired via lateral transfer, meaning they are already officers with another department, the city will be able to get them out on to the street more quickly. Sewell said if the city hires new officers, it will have to pay for them to attend the police academy and likely won't have the new officers on the street until the beginning of 2006.