Public safety update – both chiefs are hopeful with recruitment efforts
■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Reporter
The May 9 meeting of the Hemet City Council stuffed a consent calendar with important tax dollar issues such as funding the purchase of police vehicles and equipment, the purchase of a public works vehicle, and the potential addition of an assistant city manager and a public safety communications manager. Consent calendar items are only discussed if a member of the public requests, via a form submitted to the city clerk prior to the city council meeting, that an item be pulled for discussion. Council members can pull an item for discussion during the consent calendar. Both Fire Chief Scott Brown and Police Chief Dave Brown provided public safety updates, which included hiring status.
The request to purchase 19 new police vehicles and equipment was unanimously approved. A prior allocation of $440,000 was approved by the council at the December 13, 2016 council meeting, before the oversight committee was in place. The money has several funding sources:
$503, 914 – Police Vehicle/Equipment Replacement Fund
$440,000 – Measure U Immediate Action Plan – Vehicle Purchase Account (the aforementioned previous allocation)
$57,478 – California Board of State and Community Corrections City Law Enforcement Grant
$32,415.12 – Insurance reimbursement (K9 vehicle, other party at fault)
$3,223.54 – California State COPS Local Law Enforcement Grant
The department contributed to the replacement fund for two years in anticipation of the vehicle replacement purchase. One of the vehicles is for the crisis intervention team and is paid for through a grant.
Spray truck for Public Works Department
A 2017 Ford F-450 will be purchased for $87,218.21 from Fritts Ford of Riverside to replace a 1995 Ford F-350 spray truck. The single bid response from Fritts was received after a formal bid solicitation was conducted. The cost of the 2017 Ford F-450 Chassis Cab XL Regular Cab, Steel Flatbed is $34,540 with truck body costs of $45,651 for the mounted sprayer system. There is no general fund impact, according to the staff report, because funding was previously approved and is available through Storm and Drain Equipment Replacement Fund No. 380-4650 in the amount of $65,000 and through the Streets Equipment Replacement Fund 380-4200 in the amount of $20,000.
The truck is needed, according to the staff report, because the Streets and Storm Drain divisions are responsible for maintaining areas in and around roadways, public right-of-ways, road shoulders and city owned properties. Many of the road shoulders maintained are earthen ditches that serve to convey stormwater runoff during storm events. According to the staff report, “maintenance of these areas requires frequent mowing and spraying to control the growth of vegetation that can both impede water flow and create site issues for motorists…The recent annexation of more than 940 acres of undeveloped land on the western portion of the city had added approximately 10 miles of additional earthen roadside drainage area to be maintained by the crews.”
New positions in the works?
In an effort to balance the budget, the city previously eliminated the assistant city manager position. Recently, the City Council has requested quarterly updates by City Manager Alex Meyerhoff as the result of his April 20 closed session public employee performance evaluation. He was eligible for a bonus of up to $20,000, based on performance; the actual bonus amount received is unknown. The City Council also unanimously approved to amend the city’s classification plan to update the assistant city manager classification, which gives the city the ability to add the position into the fiscal year 17/18 budget if they choose.
A public safety communications manager was also unanimously approved by the council as a consent calendar item, adding of a public safety communications manager into the classification plan and setting the salary range. The staff reports states “in order to immediately release sworn personnel to address the pressing field issues requiring their sworn status, the public safety communications manager is being requested as an addition to the Hemet Mid-Managers Association (HMMA) with a salary range of HMMA 44 ($7,044 – $8,990 per month).” The staff report stated that there is no additional funding required because the City Council approved the budget for this position as part of the Measure U Immediate Action Plan on Dec. 13, 2016.
A public safety update was given by Fire Chief Scott Brown and Police Chief Dave Brown. As of now, there are four paramedic/firefighter positions open with three in background investigations. There are four open captain positions, which Fire Chief Scott Brown said are priorities to fill. All three battalion chiefs have completed their background and are set to start the first week of June. The battalion chief quarters have been completed and the command vehicle is expected to be delivered mid-to-late May. All five Hemet Fire Stations are now fully staffed with paramedics, said Fire Chief Brown.
Police Chief Dave Brown stated that out of 118 applicants, 73 passed the physical agility test. Of those, 46 took the written exam May 9. Police Chief Brown stated that if history repeats itself, “we should have about 25 applicants for the oral interview.”