Caraway City Council hires part-time PD officer

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Caraway City Council discussed the use of part time and auxiliary policemen to work with two full-time officers, and the future purchase of a police car at the council meeting held Thursday, April 9.

"We are waiting for word from the Cops Recovery Grant application," Mayor Barry Riley said. "Hopefully we can hire a new officer by the fourth of July."

Riley reviewed information about a grant to purchase a new police car for the potential officer. The grant would be a 55/45 split with $16,000 of city funding involved.

"We have to be careful how we spend the money we now have," Riley said. "The grant would come available again in October."

"It's a gamble, but if we get a new officer, we are going to need a car for him," Alderman Bo James said.

"There may be something that comes along later that we will wish we had waited on the car," Riley said.

"The sales tax went down $6,000 last month," said City Clerk/Treasurer Rick Stevens.

The Police Department Scheduling Committee appointed by Mayor Riley met last month to plan scheduling of officers with the two full-time and other part time and auxiliary officers.

Mayor Riley reviewed scheduling plans, which listed the use of new officer Jeff Rhea.

"You were to work out scheduling with what officers we had and use part time people when extra help was needed," Riley said.

"When did we get a new officer?" asked Alderman Diane Powell.

"As a committee we were to work this out," Alderman Bo James said. "I understood this was what we were appointed to do. I don't know what the hassle is on this. We talked about this two months ago."

"Jeff is not new, as we have used him before," Alderman Roger Williams said. "He lives here in town, which is good."

"I have been on the council for three years and he has not worked for the city during that time," Powell said.

"He has worked at Etowah and Lepanto," Police Chief Jerry Vaughn said.

"We have to be careful that we don't have too many officers listed and have to start paying overtime for part time or auxiliary officers," Riley said. "I was not at the committee meetings. I'm just trying to figure out what is going on."

"Jeff has not worked for us for several years," Alderman Mark Bell said. "I understood that we were to work this out as a committee, and go with it."

"This is not about who the officer is but about an officer policy decision," Riley said. "We don't want too many officers listed on our payroll."

The council voted 5-1 to hire Jeff Rhea as a part-time officer and move Shannon Kelems to auxiliary officer. Powell voted against the motion. No comments were made as to her decision.

"We pay officers a flat $125 for a 24-hour shift, and $8 an hour for a 12 hour shift," said Vaughn.

After a brief discussion as to the payment for shift workers, the council voted 5-1 to pay $125 for the 24-hour shift, and $8 an hour thereafter. Powell voted against the motion.

The council continued with other business.

"FEMA will be here next week, and we will see what we are able to get from them," Riley said.

The council voted to apply for two new cameras from the JAG Grant.

The city has applied for a grant for storm recovery to purchase three generators and replace roofs on the wastewater building, the animal shelter and water plant.

The council voted to place four-way stop signs on St. Louis and Tennessee Streets, due to frequency of accidents there.

Mayor Riley announced that the Rebel Den building had been torn down and the lot is in good condition.

A decision on an ordinance regulating construction and maintenance of swimming pools was tabled until the May 14 council meeting.

Announcement was made of a Masonic Lodge pancake breakfast for Saturday, April 11, from 6-9 a.m. The annual Easter Egg Hunt will begin at 1 p.m.

A special council meeting was called for Saturday, April 11, at 2 p.m. to discuss payment of police officers. A decision was made to pay part-time officers at $7.55 per hour. The vote was 5-1, with Powell voting against the motion.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be 6 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at city hall.

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