From the daily archives: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mario Conde
The Measure H committee voted to support the allocation of funding for the public safety agencies of the City of Calexico in order to avoid layoffs at both departments.
With a vote of 4-1 the Measure H committee approved one million dollars to Police and Fire Services with 60% going to Police and 40% going to Fire Services. This amount would be allocated on a monthly basis or $83,333.00 per month spilt on a 60/40 basis. This allocation will only be for the 2011-12 fiscal year in order to maintain the current service levels from public safety.  The usage of Measure H funding would be used to supplement the cost for materials and supplies budget, as well as other non-personnel cost. By using the Measure H funding this way, public safety will be able to use the available general funds to cover personnel cost and prevent the lay-off or further reduction of public safety personnel, as well as any other services.
This Measure H funding will not be used for salaries. Calexico Residents approved Measure H last year to raise sales tax to 9.25% in order to support public safety in Calexico.
In a report given by Police Chief Jim Neujahr, he stated about the budget issues the City has been facing the last three years has forced the department to severely cut personnel and services. The Police Department had to reduce Police Officer positions, Public Safety Dispatcher positions, and a number of support personnel which are required in order for the Police Department to perform the public safety function. Neujahr said the Police Department had to cut some 16 position, reducing the Police Department budget more than any other city budget.
Fire Chief Pete Mercado said that over the past 24 months the Fire Department has experienced a 10% rise in its call volume and a 20% reduction in its firefighting staff. The department hasn’t been able to fill vacancies caused through attrition due to uncertainty of operational budgets and the local economy. Mercado said the increased call volume has exacerbated the wear and tear on their aged fleet and firefighting equipment. The money that would normally be used to replace equipment has been redirected to pay for dire repairs on the firefighting fleet.
Luis Casillas, President of the Police Officers Association, told the board they have an ethical and moral responsibility to support this proposal since Measure H was sold to the public as a means to support public safety.  He said they are not asking for a 20 year commitment but only for 2011-12 to avoid layoffs of public safety personnel.
City Manager Oscar Rodriquez told the board that this is only for one year and said they wouldn’t come before the board is the situation was not critical. Rodriquez said the City needs to keep public safety in good shape and keep the city and its residents safe. He mentioned how city employees have taken pay cuts and are working with administration to find solutions. The budget that will be presented next month to the Council will show an increase in revenues so they hope that as the city budget gets better they will not ask for funding again.

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