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Oxford Police Department presents $6.4M budget to Oxford Board of Aldermen

Despite Oxford’s population growth, the Oxford Police Department’s budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 that was presented to the Board of Aldermen on Thursday showed only a 2.65 percent increase from this year’s budget.

Of the department’s $6,453,889 budget, $5,663,336 is for salaries and overtime pay, health benefits and retirement payments.

One of the increases proposed this year is in prisoner care, which went from $106K to $115K.

“Seems a new trend is those we arrest are suddenly sick and we have to take them to the emergency room,” said Chief Joey East.

OPD is requesting two new positions this year in their proposed budget that includes another dispatcher.

“We like to have two on each shift and we currently have eight dispatchers,” East told the aldermen. “If someone has a baby or is sick, we’re short one dispatcher.”

The estimated salary cost for the new dispatcher is about $38,000 a year.

Another new position is for a technology manager with a $49,000 salary.

“This is a totally new position for us,” East said. “Law enforcement has become a technology-based industry. With computers in the cars, new printers, camera systems, body cameras – a lot of things police officers know how to use, but not how to fix or service if something goes wrong.”

This year, Mayor Robyn Tannehill requested department heads to put together their budgets without including major capital projects, and instead, list them on a separate document that will be considered by the aldermen, who will decide how to fund the requested vehicles and equipment and whether to use general fund money, 2 percent food and beverage taxes or interest from the Baptist investment fund.

East is requesting eight new patrol vehicles at a cost of $216,000, new radios at $100,000, 10 body cameras at $6,000, gas masks for TACT unit at $11,5000, heat alarms for K9 cars at $3,000 and mobile data for code enforcement officers at $3,000.

East said he expects to ask for another eight vehicles next year and then the number of new vehicles needed will be reduced once the city gets the fleet where most of the patrol cars are newer.

“We’ve waited too long to replace many of the city’s fleet and then they become too old and we can’t sell them and get much back,” East said. “We need to keep our fleet in a way where when it’s time to sell them and get new ones, we can get almost half back on our investment on the older ones.”

The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The aldermen will continue budget hearings next week and then a public hearing will be scheduled for citizens to review and comment on the budget before the board votes in September. By law, the budget must be approved by Sept. 15.

Other departments presenting budgets on Thursday were:

•Visit Oxford with a $9 million budget request with most of the revenue coming from the 2 percent food and beverage and hotel/motel taxes

•Parking Department with a $329K budget that is funded through parking meter collections and ticket fines

•Environmental Services with a $4,067,355 budget that includes street cleaning, garbage collection, rubbish collection, cemetery upkeep, and recycling. Equipment requests include two garbage trucks, a knuckle boom truck and recycling bailer.

•Municipal Court with a $453K budget request.