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Coal City holds hearing to discuss budgets for police, emergency services

COAL CITY – After purchasing new vehicles and hiring officers this fiscal year, the Coal City Police Department will be “taking it easy” in the next budget cycle, Coal City Police Chief Tom Best said.

“The village really stepped up last year to help us purchase those vehicles and personnel,” Best said Friday.

The department purchased two new vehicles with equipment at about $45,000 each and hired two new employees this year.

Currently, the department staffs 10 officers and one chief and it owns eight vehicles.

“We hadn’t purchased new vehicles in quite a while,” Best said. “We’re really just playing a little bit of catch-up to get everything updated.”

The village of Coal City held a special hearing Thursday evening to discuss budgets for the city’s police department and emergency service disaster agency.

“One of the major areas of concern had to do with increases in personnel,” Village Administrator Matt Fritz said Friday of the police budget. “When the final budget comes out, there might be some discussion about the impact of police versus the total operational budget.”

Fritz said hiring two officers had a major impact on personnel expenditures, which make up 90 percent of the police department’s budget.

Although the officers were hired earlier this year, Best said the department is now starting to experience the effects of the expenditures as it plans for next year.

“There’s concern about the sustainability of the increases in personnel spending,” Fritz said.

Best said the department wants to purchase one new vehicle again this year, but needs the village to approve that expenditure.

“Other than that, our budget is looking pretty status quo,” Best said.

The village’s emergency services agency also was present at the budget hearing.

Fritz said the board made no changes to the agency’s budget, but discussed the important role emergency workers played during last fall’s tornadoes.

“It was very beneficial for them to have their communication center,” Fritz said.

That call center is grant funded through the state, which alleviates some of the village’s budgetary burdens.

“They are supported with the money that comes from the state,” Fritz said.

The proposed budgets will be discussed in more detail during Monday’s village board meeting. Final budgets must be ready for passage by May 30, the end of Coal City’s fiscal year. Fritz said they hope to have them passed by mid April.

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