Sultan looks at cutting two police officers to save money

By LESLIE MORIARTY

Herald Writer

SULTAN — City council members are looking at cutting two police officers as they prepare the 2001 city budget.

They are planning a 6 percent increase in the city’s property tax levy, the maximum amount allowed by state law.

Police Chief Fred Walser said he is looking for ways to cut his budget that don’t involved eliminating officers so he can save the integrity of his department.

In the budget proposed by city administrator Roy Bysegger, the number of officers would be reduced in 2001 from eight to six. That would save the city about $50,000, along with cuts in police travel and seminars, and equipment maintenance and repairs.

Other cuts in personnel also are planned, including a utility worker, a building inspector and a part-time assistant planner.

The budget will be addressed at 7 p.m. Wednesday (at the Sultan Community Center, 319 Main St., during which public comments will be taken.

A second hearing and final action is expected Dec. 6.

The police budget was scrutinized by Bysegger and Mayor C.H. Rowe after some council members wanted to contract for police services with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to save money.

When a majority of the council said no to that idea, the proposed police budget was cut from $1 million to $872,000.

If the council chooses to cut officers, Walser said response times will suffer. The current response time is an average of 1.5 to 2 minutes. He told the council that calls are increasing because of growth and increased traffic on U.S. 2.

Overall, the city budget calls for $1.7 million in general fund expenditures, up from $1.6 million this year.

Bysegger said that because the city doesn’t have much sales tax revenue, it needs to rely on property tax hikes and on an increase of 2 percent in the business and occupation tax. While there are plans for a commercial and industrial park, the economic activity from that will not be realized this year.

The preliminary budget calls for permit fees for new construction to remain on the same growth level as this year.

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