Aldermen expect additional $19,200 savings since police contract implemented

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 2/21/20

BELLE — Belle aldermen expect to save an additional $19,200 in insurance and Workman’s Compensation they had not foreseen since they started outsourcing the city’s police services …

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Aldermen expect additional $19,200 savings since police contract implemented

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BELLE — Belle aldermen expect to save an additional $19,200 in insurance and Workman’s Compensation they had not foreseen since they started outsourcing the city’s police services on Feb. 1 to Maries County.

City Treasurer Michelle Jones explained the savings at the Feb. 11 city meeting.

“I’ve been working on canceling insurance here and there and once we sell (the police) cars we will be saving $1,925 a year,” Jones began. “Workman’s comp we will be saving about $5,000 a year and the liability will be about $2,400.”

Jones said she did get a new estimate for Workman’s Compensation for the coming year, but it still included the police department employees.

“It’s estimated to be $21,809 for Workman’s Comp,” Jones said.

Alderman Ken Stanfield asked if that was a savings. Jones said no, that was the estimate prior to the $5,000 saving on Workman’s Compensation they can expect from dropping the police department employees.

“The payment you just agreed to pay is the down-payment that has to be paid by March 18,” Jones clarified. “I just wanted to let you know that.”

Alderman Jeanette Struemph asked if the insurance company would re-adjust the Workman’s Compensation cost for the city and Jones said yes. The estimated cost savings added up to $9,325 in addition to the healthcare savings of an estimated $1,600 a month and $60 a month for 401K.

“I don’t expect an ok on the budget, I just wanted to show you,” Jones told aldermen.

Alderman Tony Gieck said that is $19,200 a year in health insurance savings.

“I thought the Workman’s Comp would have been more than a $5,000 savings,” Gieck said.

Jones said they haven’t given her an adjustment on the total bill that subtracts the police department. Until then, the city needs to pay $6,542 by March 18 to keep the insurance going.

Public Discussion on police services

During public discussion from visitors, Jr. (James) Pendleton came to the board to discuss concerns about his neighbor’s property. Mayor Josh Seaver helped to explain the situation.

“He’s having some issues with his neighbors, the way they are keeping their property up on both sides of ‘em,” Seaver said.

Pendleton brough photos with him.

“Evidently there is some junk cars piled up against the railroad easement back there,” Seaver said. “This has been kind of an ongoing thing.”

Seaver asked Lt. Scott John from the Maries County Sheriff’s Department Belle Division if his officers could look into the matter.

“We can,” John said. “The number one complaint we have received since we have been here has been nuisance violations.”

According to the contract between the sheriff’s department and the city, Marshal Joe Turnbough was asked to continue on as nuisance violation officer, but Sheriff Chris Heitman said his department would help when they are asked or needed.

“All that stuff up there against the railroad tracks — we get that walking trail through here and people see that, we don’t want to have that kind of junk in town a few blocks off of Main Street,” Pendleton said.

He also complained about rats.

“The marshal has known about this is nothing has been done?” John asked.

Struemph confirmed Turnbough knew there was a problem but had not done anything. Stanfield agreed it was an eyesore. Pendleton told the board to keep the photos.

Belinda Branson, who has expressed concerns to the board about her neighbors for several months now, addressed the aldermen and John.

“I have had a complaint like his for some time,” Branson told the board as Pendleton exited the board chambers. “I can actually see an improvement.”

She thanked the board and officers who have helped them get something accomplished.

“I appreciate the drug raid that was done there a couple of nights ago and the traffic stop on Fourth Street that had the heroine involved,” Branson continued. “It’s good to know that there are police officers out there doing things now.”

Terry Connors, who has declared his candidacy for mayor, addressed the board.

“First of all, it come to my mind since I been sittin’ here, so it’s not written down, but is there anyway we could get copies of prior minutes, closed sessions, and things like the budget that ya’ll discussed so we can read them while waiting for ya’ll to decide? So we can be part of the process?” Connors asked.

He pointed to the agenda and said they had that, but he would like to read the minutes.

“You have to request them,” Jones said.

Connors said he was requesting them, that they be available at each meeting. Jones said he could come to city hall and request them and get them right away.

“The other question I have is actually a clarification on the police contract and the only reason I have a question is because in one of the papers, there were questions asked of the sheriff and it says that we are buying patrol cars for the sheriff’s department to use here,” Connors said. “If something happens to that contract, will those patrol cars be left here for the city? And the answer was yes.”

John said no. The patrol cars are being purchased by the sheriff’s office and will stay with the sheriff’s office if the contract is canceled. Connors claimed the sheriff answered the question in the affirmative previously.

“No, the patrol cars are being purchased by the sheriff’s office,” John said.

“That’s what I thought, but I thought they were also being purchased with our funds,” Connors countered. “The sheriff answered positively to that, but I didn’t see that anywhere else.”

Gieck explained the sheriff’s department is buying new cars from the funds the city is paying them to provide police services. Therefore they keep their payment and whatever they purchase with it.

“I was under the impression that they should contract in, even if it is two years from now,” Connors said. “The cars should be ours because we paid for them,” Connors said.

Gieck said to clarify the other part of Connors question, the money they receive from selling the former Belle Police Department’s equipment will be set aside in a fund to re-establish the police department should the contract not be successful.

Former Police Department Surplus Property

Seaver informed the board that the sale of police cars and equipment from the former Belle Police Department is ready to go.

“The guys have got the cars stripped down and are ready to be sold,” Seaver said. “I spoke with the chief over at Linn PD and they want to look at them, along with a list of what we are getting rid of, firearms and ammunition. Or we can sell them outright.”

John asked Seaver if they had priced any of the guns or equipment yet. Seaver said no. He had tried to on a gun broker website, but hadn’t been successful.

“I don’t navigate that very well,” Seaver said.

Gieck suggested surplusing the property and putting the items up to the highest bidder. Other aldermen agreed and Gieck said that way they had the right to accept or reject the offers. Seaver said they could package deal the items or sell them individually, whatever the board wanted to do.

“I’d be interested in purchasing the ammunition and guns myself,” Connors said.

Seaver said ok.

“If you are going to sell your ammo and guns, my opinion from what I have seen in the past, I would auction them,” John said. “You’re going to get more money for them that way. Especially if you can get the judge to sign off on the guns you have in the evidence room and have a gun action.”

Stanfield asked John if the city would be liable should the guns be used in a crime later.

“If you sell the guns you would use a Federal Firearms License,” John said. “Have that FFL, do a background check and gun transfer paperwork before you turn the firearm over to the new owner.”

The sheriff’s department occasionally holds gun actions, John said, and that is how they do it.

Tony asked how soon the Linn chief of police wanted to look. Seaver said he wasn’t sure. They could sell it in a package or do an auction.

“I make a motion to put the cars up for sealed bids,” Gieck said. “Hold off on the firearms until we decide what we want to do — auction or what have you.”

Struemph seconded the motion and it passed with a 4-0 vote.

Analog Radios from Phelps Health

“The analog radios that came from Phelps Health, they don’t want those back,” Seaver said. “They are ours to do what we want with them. I would recommend donating them to the volunteer fire department where they can use them.”

Gieck asked if they ever bought the programing for them. Seaver said no they didn’t.

“I talked to Joe about that, he said Phelps Health sent them to their guy, he didn’t know the guy’s name, so we are going to have to call and figure out where these radios are.”

The board voted 4-0 to donate the radios to Belle Volunteer Fire Department.

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