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Late budget amendment for police vests concerns Sunnyside City Council

An amendment to the 2009 budget resulted in approval, but with dissent, by the Sunnyside City Council during its meeting on Monday.

The amendment involved $30,000 to provide Sunnyside's 10 SWAT team members with new ballistics vests. The vests currently in use have a life span of five years, but had been in use for 10 years. Money for the vests will come from the city's investigative fund.

Council voted to approve the amendment, but took exception to its timeliness.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock said she had an issue not with the need for the vests, but how they were presented as an amendment when they were five years past their life expentancy. She noted it should be brought as a regularly budgeted item, replaced as required.

Mayor Paul Garcia agreed, "That should have been picked up before this. Coming in so late we have to figure out how to put it on track so we don't lose track of these things."

Mayor pro tem Jim Restucci added, "It's one of those situations where we need it. Our people need to be protected. However this is something that should have been avoided."

In reply, Police Chief Ed Radder said he "did not disagree" with the comments made by council.

Looking ahead, Councilman Bill Gant said he would support a move to set up a five or six-year rotating fund for the vests so they are purchased on time and without a budget amendment.

The money approved for the vests on Monday night comes from drug seizures and court assessments. The fund will be reduced to about $130,000 following the vest purchases.

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