Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

April 16, 2014

Glasgow's public safety department heads talk about budget needs

GLASGOW — The city of Glasgow’s public safety departments discussed Tuesday their goals for the upcoming budget year before the Glasgow City Council’s finance committee.

Their wish lists ranged from a heavy-duty shredder to new vehicles. One budget item, though – another full-time dispatcher – came with a suggestion to look outside city coffers for funding.

Beverly Harbison, director of the emergency dispatching center, pointed out that most of her funding, except for personnel, is funneled through the governing board that receives telephone service surcharge funds. She reviewed the number of dispatchers it takes to cover various shifts and said she needs another full-time person to properly cover during vacations or sick days.

She suggested asking Barren County and Cave City governments to contribute funding, noting that dispatchers handled more than 9,000 calls for the Barren County Sheriff’s Office and about 3,000 for the Cave City Police Department.

The department handled 43,931 calls in 2013, nearly 20,000 of which were for the Glasgow Police Department, and the total for all law enforcement being 32,295. They handled 7,971 EMS calls, 3,606 calls for fire agencies and 59 calls for the emergency management agency, according to Harbison.

“I just personally think that, with us needing another [full-time person and getting them trained], it’s time for the county – and Cave City – to pitch in on it,” she said.

The governing board has “a lot of money” it is “sitting on” right now, but that is mostly used for equipment, she said, and the board pays 80 percent of the assistant director position.

Councilwoman Sheila Oliver said that when 911 dispatching was started, the city of Glasgow was financially healthy, more so than the county at the time, so then-Mayor Charlie Honeycutt decided the city would provide dispatching for other agencies in the county at no charge. The plan had never been seriously reviewed after that, although the county did pay a relatively small amount for some period of time, but that contract was not renewed when it expired.

“We never intended to pay for it all forever,” she said.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Fire Department Chief Tony Atwood told the committee about the difference even small items can make, such as when tarps that cost less than $150 were used to cover and save thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment at Glasgow High School during a sprinkler problem.

Last year, the city budgeted for 19 sets of firefighter turnout gear with an eye toward purchasing more in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Atwood said the 20 more that are needed were included in the request for bids last year, so last year’s price would be locked in for the others. He believes the total will be around $41,480.

The Chevrolet Blazers driven by the assistant chief and battalion chief drive are getting in “pretty bad shape,” Atwood said, adding that the Ford Explorer he got last year was purchased through a state contract at a price “right around $23,000,” compared to the normal price of about $30,000. He encouraged committee members to consider purchasing two more of those and suggested the possibility of trading in the Blazers, unless someone else with the city might want to use them.

He is also looking to replace about 2,000 feet of three-inch hose.

He also discussed a need for better placement of fire stations. He has kept an eye on possible locations at the northern end of the city, along or near Veterans Outer Loop, where the second station could be relocated. Eventually, another location will be needed at the southern end of town, which essentially can only be accessed via U.S. 31-E.

For every two minutes a fire burns, it doubles in size, Atwood said, and the farther firefighters must travel to get to a call only increases the destruction.

Mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman said ideas regarding property are in the preliminary discussion stage and she hopes to have a proposal that would be a “very, very, very low cost to the city” to bring to the council in the next few months.

Glasgow Police Department Chief Guy Turcotte’s goals include getting cameras in the eight vehicles that don’t already have them, with an anticipated cost of just less than $13,000, and purchasing 10 mobile data terminals for use in vehicles. Those could cost $2,700 to $5,000, but he’s also checking on whether smart tablets could do what is needed, which would reduce the cost considerably.

He said some newer officers don’t have Tasers, so he wants to get five of those, which cost about $900 apiece, he said.

Smaller office shredders don’t hold up well to the use the department gives them, so he’s shopped around for “industrial” shredders and found they range from $1,500 to $3,000.

And he proposed the purchase of a utility vehicle and another cruiser, if possible, at roughly estimated costs of $28,000 and $29,000.

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