The disappearing red lines

City Council reverses cuts to local police in preliminary budget vote

The Dillon City Council at its meeting last week cut back on some fiscal cutbacks suggested by Mayor Mike Klakken and endorsed by its Finance Committee, after hearing from some of the people who would be directly affected by them.

The City Council voted unanimously to put the Dillon Police Department’s overtime line item back to $30,000 instead of cutting it by $25,000 as Klakken had suggested in the city budget for Fiscal Year 2017–18.

The council also restored $5000 to the local police’s travel fund to attend trainings in the coming fiscal year that Klakken had suggested cutting to help reduce the $259,000 shortfall he saw looming in the budget.

And, the council last Wednesday also voted unanimously to place a measure on the ballot for this fall’s municipal election to levy local taxpayers for the hiring of two additional police officers.

Confused by the swirl of seemingly conflicting votes and proposals? Well, so were others heading into last Wednesday’s council meeting.

“As you are all aware, you are voting on a proposal for the public to vote to provide funding for additional officers to ease the burden the department now faces,” wrote Police Chief Don Guiberson in a letter to the council included in the meeting packets.

“At the same time this vital issue is being discussed, there is also a proposal in the budget to cut the requested overtime funding from $30,000 to $5000,” continued Guiberson, who noted that $5000 would not have even covered the overtime police needed to work during last year’s Labor Day Weekend festivities.

“There is also a proposal to cut funding for professional training for officers which is mandated by law,” added Guiberson,

“I am shocked and honestly confused that these proposals can even be considered as the police department is already functioning at the absolute bare bones minimum,” wrote Guiberson, who had spoken extensively at several other city meetings this summer about the underfunding and overwhelming challenges his department already faces.

“The cuts broke my heart,” said Guiberson, who received a loud round of applause from those in attendance at last week’s council meeting at the conclusion of his presentation.

“I want this city to be safe.”

The unanimous votes on rejecting cuts to the police came as part of a resolution to endorse a preliminary budget put forth by Klakken.

The unanimous vote also set up a public hearing to receive comments on the preliminary FY 2017–18 budget.

That hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, Aug. 16, in City Council Chambers, 125 N. Idaho St. in downtown Dillon.