Friday, February 25, 2005

Police chief seeks more staff

Ketchum council considers boost to parking enforcement, dog control

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum Police Chief Corey Lyman

More parking tickets and more intensive animal control could soon be in store for Ketchum. Police Chief Corey Lyman asked the Ketchum City Council on Tuesday to approve additional funding for animal control and community policing. The council promised to review the request and look into how the $49,000 request to pay additional staff could be accommodated by fluctuations in other parts of the city budget.

Lyman said that considering the demand for current services he made a mistake last year when he offered to reduce a pool of four employees doing code enforcement and animal control to two employees to help balance the city's budget.

"I thought it was a good idea to offer up a cut there. I have to state that I made a bad decision," Lyman said. "The work load exceeds the ability of two people to handle it."

Lyman said considering all the tasks of enforcement of parking and snow ordinances, animal control and bike path policing, he miscalculated the impact of reducing the work force.

Lyman asked the council to look at approving funds that would allow him to add an additional full-time employee and one part time employee.

"The big press would be when we hit the high (summer) season," he said, explaining that calls about animal control among other complaints have increased considerably.

City Councilwoman Terry Tracy complemented Lyman's staff for their service under adverse conditions, but said she has been a "stickler for this budget." She was concerned about fairness to other departments, which may also want to make adjustments.

However, council members largely agreed that, particularly if funds could be scraped together from other parts of the budget, they could act on the request at the next city council meeting.

Sources of funding for the adjustment could come from more aggressive collection of fines. Building fee proceeds, which the city typically estimates conservatively, could be another source, said City Administrator Ron LeBlanc. Confident that the money could be found, LeBlanc reminded council members that it is their responsibility to determine staffing levels and that calls about the problems had also reached his office.

Councilman Baird Gourlay added to the discussion, suggesting that perhaps the city should have a budget review every six months, which could go a long way to accommodating changing city needs and department requests.

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