Public safety and street and sanitation departments make requests
Union City Council wrapped up their budget work sessions with another long afternoon of presentations on Wednesday. The various city departments made presentations on what they do, giving highlights from the past year, and highlighting their budget needs for the coming fiscal year.
The Street and Sanitation Department is requesting a new de-icer, which would be a brine sprayer. This would replace a 1992 salt spreader that is broken down and rusted. The cost is $28,680. They also requested that the city begin charging a return cart request fee. After garbage routes, the trucks have to be cleaned. If a customer calls to have the truck come back to pick up their trash, the vehicle has to be cleaned again after dumping the trash. With numerous callbacks happening, this gets expensive because of labor costs and cleaning chemical costs, as well. Improper placement of carts behind obstacles such as mailboxes, utility poles, or cars prevent the trash from being collected, along with being late in rolling carts to the curb. Council members proposed a $10 return cart request fee to be added to the customer’s combined utility bill each time they are called back. The trucks have cameras that can prove whether a cart was properly placed or placed on time.
Union Public Safety is requesting rugged in-car laptops with thermal printers and mounting equipment. It would be a three-year lease for $23,000 a year. They also need some new self-contained breathing apparatus devices, at a cost of $36,000. Public Safety Director Robbie McGee asked for two administrative vehicles to add to the fleet to replace some older models, at a cost of $91,000. He also wanted to add three firefighters to the department, one for each shift. When asked which was the bigger need, the vehicles or the firefighters, McGee said if forced to choose, the firefighters were more important. The department has received approval for 6 patrol vehicles and two administrative vehicles in the current budget year. Council agreed to add the firefighters to the budget but to take out the two administrative vehicles from the budget request.
McGee said he opposed adding animal control to the duties of the Union Public Safety Department. Currently, by contract the county does animal control for the city, and the city pays around $31,000 for that. McGee said by placing animal control in the Public Safety Department, it turns it into a 24/7 operation where officers would be expected to run animal control calls when the part-time animal control officers were off-duty, adding additional duties to officers who already have to do police and firefighting duties and adding additional financial strain to the department, which has to provide police and fire equipment and vehicles. The proposed pay for the part-time positions he said would also be an issue, as the proposed $18.01 an hour is the same rate a Public Safety Officer starts at and is $2 an hour more than the part-time Main Street officer is paid.
McGee also noted that the city charges $25 an hour for officers to work extra duty events, such as ballgames, parties, events at Main Street Junction or Veterans Lodge, and other things like that. The actual cost to the department for those times runs between $42-$50 an hour. McGee suggested bumping up the rate the city charges for extra duty events. Council agreed to bump the figure to $35 an hour.
We’ll have much more from the budget sessions in upcoming newscasts.