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Trustees Start Budget Talks, Adding Police Officer

Working on the 2014 budget officially got underway Monday.

Trustees Start Budget Talks, Adding Police Officer
**Updated 10:30 a.m. Oct. 2

As promised, the 2014 Caledonia village budget keeps spending status quo but does include adding another police officer.

Budget meetings got underway Monday, and one of the primary line items board members are considering is funding the salary and benefits of a new police officer.

Village Administrator Mark Janiuk distributed copies of his proposed zero-increase budget to trustees at the Sept. 16 board meeting.

"This budget is status quo for many departments, but there are some significant changes for others," he told the board that night. "What's new is an additional full time police officer ... (and) an additional $8,000 in the parks budget to hire part-time employees."

Caledonia Police Chief Toby Schey told trustees Monday that his officers are responding to an increased number of calls. Now, they're also taking on the duties of a humane officer because the Wisconsin Humane Society doesn't do animal control, according to a story in The Journal Times.

Adding an officer would cost between $75,000 and $84,000 per year for salary and benefits, but would keep four officers on the road per shift and decrease overtime expenditures as well.

"This is about coverage per shift," Trustee Kevin Wanggaard told Patch Tuesday. "If we have a major accident, that ties up three officers. Yes, animal control takes up more time, but that's not the primary driver of this issue."

Patch spoke with Schey Wednesday, and he said being short-staffed is costing the village $150,000 this year in overtime, an amount that goes up every year. 

"We lost five officers in 2010 and have never replaced them so our overtime goes up almost 10 percent each year over the last," he said. "And we do have additional duties that keep us from proactive policing like traffic enforcement, which also can help prevent accidents, especially fatal ones."

Certainly animal control is one of those responsibilities, but the new law that requires police to get a warrant for a blood draw for an OWI (operating while intoxicated) arrest is also a concern because that situation ties up half the officers on a shift.

"When we have an OWI arrest and that person doesn't consent to a blood draw, we have to get a warrant, and that ties up two of our four officers on a shift for a couple of hours because one officer has to obtain the warrant while another officer stays at the hospital with the suspect," the chief added.

There is another budget meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the East Side Community Center, 6156 Douglas Avenue.

According to the schedule Janiuk laid out, a preliminary budget will be ready by Oct. 21, and residents will be invited to a public hearing about the budget on Nov. 18.

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