A special meeting was announced today to discuss how to fund the new police hires a recent study says Grand Island desperately needs.
Grand Island Police officials say that the recommendations in an International City/County Management Association report are not a wish list; rather, the hires are a necessity to deal with Grand Island crime.
Even if the hires were fully funded today, however, the process would still take time.
"It will take us two years, if it is funded, take us two years to be actually able to hire and train and have those officers in the department," explained Grand Island Police Department Chief Steve Lamken.
A four-year police hiring plan is currently proposed. The first proposed hires include patrol officers, followed in later years by support staff.
A plan for the recruiting, hiring, and training of the new police department staff members envisions a four-year process, but funding the additional hires had yet to be addressed by the city council until Friday afternoon (August 17).
Now council members -- and the public -- will be able to weigh different funding options. Among them - a possible cell phone tax increase, or dipping into cash reserves. And though city Finance Director Jaye Monter announced Friday that a property tax increase is not part of a new plan, the three to six percent increase is still on the table.
City Council member John Gericke says public safety will require council to prioritize needs versus wants in budgeting.
"Some things that we don't have any choice on, that we have to do, and some things are optional so those are the things we'll be looking at, of course, is the optional things," Gericke said.
The possible funding options for police hiring will be formally presented to the Grand Island City Council in Tuesday night's special meeting as they work to approve a budget that must be submitted to the state by September 20th.