Council, town marshal scrutinize budget

Friday, March 20, 2020

CLOVERDALE -- Cloverdale officials have been trying to figure out how to efficiently maximize, stretch and distribute the town’s funds.

However, how to keep the Cloverdale Police Department going financially, as well as maintain its current officers, held the town council’s attention during its monthly meeting recently.

The discussion of what became a muddled issue began with Town Marshal Steve Hibler providing that the police department was having to rely on the county forces to pick up calls for service.

He said he was hoping a strategy would be developed so that CPD would have another officer. He also asked whether Deputy Marshal Levi App and two other officers could receive a raise. However, he wondered further if the funds would be there in the first place.

Clerk-Treasurer Cheryl Galloway responded that the town would have to strip monies elsewhere to accommodate the raise, even to possibly lay off a town employee.

Principally, this was because the budget was “inflated” so that the town could receive the most money possible from the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF).

Galloway then stated that the police department was basing their allotment on a previous $690,000 budget, but of which approximately $600,000 was received. This was where the confusion began to set in.

Hibler said he had reviewed the budget on Gateway and found that the police department was set to receive an adopted $236,745. However, $18,000 was set aside for part time.

Galloway then said that the town itself had to work on a 18-month pay schedule, while CPD was working on a 12-month plan. She repeatedly said that she was concerned about covering the town’s expenses to next June.

In effect, the police department would have approximately $211,000 to work on, with or without the $18,000 which was supposedly earmarked.

Hibler and the council then honed in on what was being allotted for those working the town office, with the town marshal pointing out that office salaries have increased.

Salaries under Cloverdale’s street department have also increased, and this includes those of Wayne Galloway, who serves as both the building inspector and the town manager.

The clerk-treasurer reverted that the police department was allotted 49 percent of the town’s budget in 2019, saying that it was “spending too much money.” However, she was not adverse to giving App a pay raise.

Council Vice President Greg Jay added that the town was “growing so fast,” but yet the police department was running half the calls coming in. As such, he said this growth needed to be kept up with the town’s front-line protection, rather than cutting it.

At the end of it all, “blowing up” a budget to send to the state for approval has not necessarily been an uncommon move in other cases.

Though a different scenario, North Putnam Schools advertised a higher budget and tax rate to help cover its current renovation project. It was understood then that the advertised amount would not be specifically allotted.

Concerning the currently scrutinized budget, Galloway said that she had set $709,000 and would receive $590,000. She asked the council if this was the “preferred” budget to be broken down later.

Hibler said that he would have wanted the earmarked $18,000 to go toward the police department. This is even though Galloway said that this was a “make-believe” number.

Jay then proposed that the building inspector’s fund be moved to the police and then combine that with the town manager’s. He added that Wayne Galloway was able to accomplish both capacities on the same salary.

While no action was taken on that, Jay motioned that the raises for App and the other officers be approved, and the council unanimously approved.

Hibler responded to an audience member that the raise would help CPD be a little more competitive when compared to other municipal police forces.

The next regular meeting of the Cloverdale Town Council is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Town Hall.

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