The City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a budget amendment that will allow the Police Department to hire another officer.
The addition will bring the department’s number up to 13, Heflin police Chief A.J. Benefield said after the meeting.
“This is going to increase public safety,” Benefield explained.
Having the officer, who has not been hired yet, will cut down on overtime and ultimately save money, Benefield said.
Currently, the department has just enough officers to cover all shifts, but if someone has to take sick leave or takes vacation, other officers have to work overtime to cover the shift, Benefield said.
The resolution allows the department to hire an officer at $14.66 an hour, which annually will cost about $30,600 a year, City Clerk Shane Smith said during the meeting.
Not only will the Police Department gain a new officer, it’s also getting two gently used patrol vehicles. The council also unanimously passed the resolution allowing $30,500 of capital improvement funds to pay for the vehicles.
The department, Benefield said, contracts with the Missouri State Police to get gently used vehicles for about 30 percent of what they would cost new.
“We’ve done this in the past,” Benefield responded to Councilman Clinton “Shag” Austin’s questions about the purchase.
“I trust your judgment,” Austin responded. “I just want to make sure we’re not going to have to spend more later on maintenance.”
The two vehicles, a Chevrolet Tahoe and Dodge Charger, will allow each officer to take a vehicle home, Benefield said.
“I’m not sure I’m on board with that if they’re living out of town,” Councilman Shannon Roberts said during the meeting.
“It cuts down on our response times if we have an emergency situation,” the chief responded. “Instead of having to report to the department first, they can come straight from home.”
A “take-home fleet” also cuts down on maintenance costs, the chief explained.
“We tend to have less issues with vehicles if an officer is assigned to one vehicle,” Benefield said.
“They take more ownership of the vehicle and take care of it better,” Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks chimed in.
In other business the council:
Approved a resolution awarding a contract to Sentell Engineers for work at the Heflin Community Arts Center. The project, funded through the Community Development Block Grant program, will have workers renovate a parking lot and add to the playground at the center.
Awarded a bid to the Brown Roofing Company, of Anniston, for $74,300 to put a new roof on the Heflin Recreation Center. About $30,000 will be paid out of the Alabama Trust Fund Account and the other $44,300 will be paid from capital improvement funds.
Staff Writer Kirsten Fiscus: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @KFiscus_Star.