Mayor responds to council reinstatement of deputy chief

In response to yesterday’s agreement among common council members and Police Chief Greg Culick to reinstate the deputy chief’s position in the 2016-2017 budget, Mayor Michael Villa pointed out on Tuesday that the police department currently has a total of five administrative staff, including the chief, deputy chief, lieutenant, administrative assistant, and detective clerk with total compensation amounting to $362,000.

“I can’t justify it to the taxpayers,” said Villa.

He cited both his own job and the fire chief as examples of positions with less administrative help than the police department.

In regards to Victor Hugo, the current deputy chief, Villa said, “I’m not saying he’s not doing a good job, no one is making that claim.”

However, he said, “No one’s going to convince me that it’s going to create chaos if eliminated.”

Villa insisted that the cut to the administrative position would not affect the level of service to the community.

“The deputy chief does not go on the road and answer your call for a burglary. Neither does the lieutenant. They’re mainly administrative positions. It’s time that we spread these duties out,” he said.

Villa had eliminated the deputy chief’s position, listed in the budget with a salary of approximately $101,000, and a second dispatcher position, listed at approximately $33,000, in his proposed 2016-2017 budget. However, Villa had left a vacant lieutenant’s position, with a salary of approximately $80,000. During a budget meeting on Monday, council members agreed to reinstate both positions and de-fund the lieutenant’s position. Culick also agreed to further cuts in his budget in order to make up the difference required to fund positions without raising the overall budget.

Villa said his intent was for Hugo to go to the lieutenant’s position and then cut that position upon his retirement to fund more dispatchers

“I needed to have a spot for him to go to…I funded the lieutenant’s position in the hopes that we would cut the position, he would retire, we would take that $80,000 and reinvest that into the department.”

“My goal is at the end of four years, is to have four dispatchers. That would put four [more] police officers on the street,” said Villa.

In the future, he also said he would like to add a “swing sergeant” who could cover different shifts when staff was short.

“I’ve worked [at the police department] twenty years, I think I have a working knowledge of what I think is needed. And my goal has always been to maintain public service, but let’s do it in a more efficient way,” he said.

Villa said it will continue to be his goal to eliminate the position in the future.

In regards to the council’s decision, Villa said “I’m probably not going to veto it,” however he added, “They’re going to have to explain to their constituents why they put it back in and didn’t take that $100,000 and lower taxes, it’s up to them.”

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.