Friday, January 30, 2009

Bellevue loses policeman to economic downturn

City looks to feds for stimulus money


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Bellevue Marshal Ron Taylor is losing one patrolman due to the economic downturn. Photo by David N. Seelig

The city of Bellevue will lose a police officer and forego needed fire safety equipment due to a projected revenue shortfall of $106,164 for fiscal year 2009. The economic downturn will also result in a decrease of library book purchases and other spending cutbacks to balance the city budget.

The Bellevue Marshal's Office, which contracts with the Blaine County Sheriff's Office, has used four patrolmen over the past year to double the number of criminal offense reports in the city.

"This doesn't mean that crime is up," Marshall Ron Taylor said. "It means that we are being proactive."

Taylor will lose an officer this month after city administrators were told to cut 8 percent from spending at all city departments. However, Taylor said, "the professionalism at the marshal's office will continue as before."

City Administrator Tom Blanchard said deducting 8 percent from all departments had proven to be difficult, and he had taken $40,000 from the city's capital fund to cover the rest.

"This means we will have to shift patrolmen around and that we will not be covered as we were before," Blanchard said.

He added that the city expects less revenue from parking and speeding tickets due to the loss of the patrolman.

Due to the downwardly adjusted revenue forecast, the Bellevue Fire Department will not receive needed vehicle accident extraction equipment and new firefighting suits requested by Fire Chief Greg Beaver earlier this winter.

"The situation is bleak," Blanchard said. "We are a working community with lots of people in the construction trades. Right now the construction trades are below zero."

Bellevue is staking some hopes for its financial future on getting funding from the federal government, which could come from a proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package that is being debated in Congress this month and next.

The city has made formal requests for about $4.5 million to pay for water and sewer system upgrades, street improvements and pedestrian walkways.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com

Bellevue Stimulus Package Projects

Water:

· Replace 4-inch lines in 12 blocks between Pine and Chestnut on Fifth to eighth streets: $840,000

· Upgrade Ash Street and Sixth Street to 12-inch line: $600,000

· Upgrade alley and Birch Street to 12-inch line: $700,000

Sewer:

· Lift station rebuilds: $150,000

· SCADA upgrade, all stations: $40,000

· Collection line replacements: $140,000

Street upgrades:

· Chip and seal 10 miles: $500,000

· Pine Street: $200,000

· Broadford Road: $150,000

· Oak Street/Hwy. 75 pedestrian crossings: $240,000

· Broadford Road/Hwy. 75 pedestrian crossing: $240,000

· Spruce Street/Hwy. 75 pedestrian crossing: $240,000




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