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[August 16, 2014]
Redding council mulls sales tax arguments, chief's action plan [Redding Record Searchlight, Calif. :: ]
(Record Searchlight (Redding, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 16--REDDING, California -- Get ready for another big heaping helping of public safety talks.
The Redding City Council on Monday will debate whether to make the case the case for or against Measure F, the quarter-cent public safety sales tax increase going to voters in November.
On Tuesday, the council hears from Chief Robert Paoletti, who presents an action plan for his department as well as a recommendation to spend $250,000 on body cameras for his uniformed officers and data storage system.
Mayor Rick Bosetti and Councilwoman Missy McArthur want to write an argument for the measure, and Vice Mayor Francie Sullivan also favors the measure to the extent that it supports needs at the overburdened police force.
Councilman Patrick Jones plans to campaign against the measure, but this week he was noncommittal about whether he would lead the argument to vote it down. His ally, Councilman Gary Cadd, whose offer to compromise helped send the measure to the ballot, has said he wants to remain neutral and let the people make the decision.
Paoletti on Friday was at meeting in the morning and unavailable comment in the afternoon.
The chief was working with Mayor Rick Bosetti and City Manager Kurt Starman on a tiered plan in the days leading up to the July 30 town hall meeting. At that event he provided the first glimpse into some of the new initiatives, such as the bicycle patrols.
After, he released a full four-page document, which details actions the department is implementing right away and others that will different levels of funding. The sales tax measure will be crucial if he is to hire more community service officers and sworn officers.
But how the money is used -- provided that the measure passes with two-thirds of the vote -- will be in the hands of a future council.
According to the plan, Paoletti has taken the following steps: -- Begun the search for $600,000 to retain four police officers, whose positions are paid through the federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant expiring in March 2015.
Moved two traffic officers to bike patrols for businesses in the downtown and Hilltop Drive twice a week.
Started to develop a strategic plan to deal with the homeless population at the conclusion of a survey in partnership with social services.
-- Asked for new ordinances to prevent people from sitting and lying on sidewalks and occupying medians.
-- Directed his department to update data so neighborhood watch captains can organize monthly meetings and work with community groups like Redding Merchants Crime Watch and Stand Up Redding.
-- Asked the council to spend $250,000 on body cameras for police officers.
-- Looked into upgrading the county-wide criminal justice computer system.
Among some items that will require funding are the following: -- Recruit and train a volunteer corps -- perhaps retired law enforcement officers -- to handle traffic control, routine police and crash reports, special events and possibly parking enforcement.
-- Buy and install on street blocks movable camera systems, which would be monitored by retired officers. The cost per system is estimated at $8,000.
-- Implement a new patrol response plan.
-- Recruit 10 cadets to handle functions similar to those of the volunteer corps. The annual cost would be $135,000.
-- Look into hiring contracted companies to handle community cleanup efforts so as to avoid long-term employee benefit costs.
-- Work with a nonprofit to establish a detox center where officers can take alcoholics and others with chronic addictions so as to free up jail bed space and provide a place for people to receive treatment.
The cost for plans to hire more officers, including sworn and investigator positions, to handle duties as crime prevention, bike patrol, homeless outreach, neighborhood policing, property crime and narcotics-related problems, range from $2.5 million to $5 million.
Councilwoman McArthur on Friday embraced the proposal for the body cameras with enthusiasm.
"It protects the citizens. It protects the police from frivolous lawsuits," she said.
She invoked Ferguson, Missouri, the town engulfed by riots and looting in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of a black teenager.
"You don't have to go very far," she said.
Vice Mayor Sullivan said the plan shows that Paoletti listened to residents' ideas.
"He is taking a lot of community suggestions," she said. "He certainly moved quickly on some of those ideas, and he's being mindful of the money that he's got" in his budget.
Jones this week met with Paoletti to talk about the possible creation of a volunteer auxiliary program. He said there were many areas of agreement, and they are scheduled to meet on a weekly basis.
Jones wants a uniformed corps to patrol neighborhoods using old police cars.
Paoletti has expressed some reservations, reminding the council his understaffed department doesn't have the resources to train and do the background checks on prospective candidates for the volunteer corps. That also raises other questions about whether the department, with its lagging response time, is able to immediately back up a volunteer who is caught in a dangerous situation along with calls for help.
As his plan notes, volunteers would instead handle routine reports to free up the officers to investigate crimes and chase after the bad guys.
One idea that surfaced at the meeting is perhaps having firefighters take over report writing on traffic collisions. Paoletti and Fire Chief Kevin Kreitman would explore the idea, he said.
"They are already there before the police get there," Jones said.
Jones said he has met up with other city managers, though he did not identify any by name, and he said that type of collaboration between fire and police department has worked.
"The community has said that we need to try new things and do things differently," Jones said.
In other business, the council will act on a recommendation for $280,000 in raises to a group of employees at Redding Electric Utility.
Utility workers represented by United Public Employees of California would receive raises this month and next year if approved by the council. Wage adjustments for some positions range from 2.5 percent to 11.5 percent, possibly awarded on anniversary dates and pay-for-performance appraisals.
The raises, by the personnel department, are the result of a recently completed compensation analysis that was sought because of REU's difficulties with recruitment.
Personnel also proposes to create three new classifications.
Monthly pay for an energy trader would range from $6,007 to $9,543. That position currently pays between $5,460 and $8,961.
If you go What: Two Redding City Council meetings When: 5:15 p.m. Monday for special council meeting and 6 p.m. Tuesday for regular council meeting Where: Redding City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave.
About the meetings: Monday: The council will consider whether Measure F, the public safety tax increase measure, will include for and against arguments. Tuesday: The council in its consent agenda will act on a League of California Cities' resolution that calls on state lawmakers to convene a summit on the environmental and public safety effects of illegal marijuana grows. Members will also consider awarding Omni-Means Engineering Solutions a transportation planning job for the downtown, accepting two California Office of Traffic Safety grants and awarding a $5.4 million bid to Cushman Contracting Corp. for work at the Clear Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant bio-solids handling facility and an additional $735,000 for contingency funding and fees.
The council will get an update on an effort by community groups to get Union Pacific to tidy up and turn over the blighted Wells Fargo Express building and downtown railyard. It will review and consider a response to the Shasta County grand jury's final report.
The council will act on Police Chief Robert Paoletti's action for his department and his proposal to spend $250,000 on body cameras for all uniformed officers. The council will receive a mid-biennial budget report, possibly amend fines related to the water restrictions and act on proposed salary increases for United Public Employees of California.
___ (c)2014 the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) Visit the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) at www.redding.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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