MACOMB — Police Chief Curt Barker detailed for the city council's public safety committee Thursday how much money his department has tried to save this year. The largest contribution was the saving of $300,000 by reducing the number of officers from 27 to 24.
Barker said he has been chipping away at overtime costs and believes the department has saved $61,000. Officers can no longer stay late to finish reports and must complete them at the beginning of their next shift. A part-time evidence technician was hired to reduce some of the officer overtime.
The police chief said compensatory time accumulation for new officers has been capped at 80 hours with agreement of the Fraternal Order of Police local. Barker said older officers can accumulate up to 480 hours.
Barker said he has reduced the K-9 unit by one dog and has eliminated the sergeant's position in the investigations unit. A lieutenant and two detectives now staff the unit.
Looking at his $3 million budget in the 2018-2019 year beginning May 1, Barker said he is saving on training costs by using video hookups to decrease travel needs. He said he is currently short by two officers and that the eventual replacements cannot assume street duty until they've completed work at the police academy and internal training, both of which would occupy seven to eight months.
The police chief said he has budgeted for two new squad cars and related vehicle equipment in the new budget year and for a mobile computer. Barker said total costs would be about $77,000 and that funds would come from Macomb's police protective tax fund.
Fire Chief J.R. Hyde said his vehicle maintenance costs have been reduced by $6,000. He said there may be a jump in overtime because he is short one firefighter.
Hyde said he is requesting no capital equipment this year to add to his $2 million budget but that he would like to refurbish the 21-year old ladder truck in 2019-2020 at a cost of about $400,000. Mayor Mike Inman said there is money in the fire protection tax fund to cover the debt service on about $800,000 in projected equipment expenses.
Alderman Mike Wayland, the committee chairman, asked for a cost report within two months on the partnership between the fire department and Lifeguard ambulance service. Hyde said the service started Thursday and Lifeguard would be invoiced monthly for fire department costs.
Regarding the city's overall budget, City Administrator Dean Torreson said Macomb might be able to live with a $450,000 savings shortfall in the general fund if he can get a reduction for the following year in police and fire pension contributions that will total $1.1 million in the new budget.
"Where the state-mandated pension figure is headed in ten or more years will be untenable for most cities," Mayor Inman added. He said the Illinois Municipal League is ready to introduce reform efforts in the next couple of weeks.
The committee also voted to recommend marking a space for handicapped parking in front of the Macomb Post Office on Washington Street. Dustin Berg, who uses a wheelchair, said the handicapped space in front of his office at the intersection of Washington and Randolph streets was removed when the downtown square was repaved and re-striped.

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