Police dept. proposal to take over animal control and parking enforcement

At tonight’s Public Safety and Welfare meeting, Chief of Police John Morrissey presented the committee members with a budget proposal to take over the animal control contract and the three unionized parking enforcement officers and create a new position of “community service officer (CSO)” to handle these duties, plus more.  For example, these officers could also handle responding to non-injury traffic accidents, and the issuance of municipal fire citations.

Currently, there is an animal control contract which expires at the end of December.  The chief stated that a letter would be sent shortly to the contractor to inform them of the department’s intent not to renew the contract, with the approval of this committee and the Common Council.  The chief further stated that he saw this as more of an “improvement of the quality of service, and maintenance of the quality of service.”

The proposal includes a $235,000 savings over five years, with $48,000 being saved in the first year alone.  Even though the proposal calls for the elimination of the three parking enforcement officers, it creates six new CSO positions.  “Both the City Administration (Mayor’s Office) and the City Administrator are in support of this proposal,” Morrissey said.  “The CSO positions will increasingly take the burden off the other sworn-in officers.  There is a cost savings for the CSO’s vs. sworn-in officers.” 

Morrissey passed out copies of the proposal to the committee members.  It included a proposed job description, “which can be added to,” he said.  The starting salary for a CSO would be $15/hour; after seven step increases, the CSO could be earning as much as $18/hour.  The top step of the police enforcement structure calls for $3,736/month vs. the top step of the CSO at $3,114/month.  These officers would be on a 5/2 schedule. 

The current parking enforcement officers work Monday through Friday.  This proposal will have the CSO’s working on second shift and weekends as well.  Four CSO’s will be working on the day shift, and two will be assigned to the afternoon shift.  Morrissey stated that this is a widely accepted practice in other Wisconsin cities, such as Fond du Lac, Waukesha, and Beloit.  Equipment that will need to be purchased as part of this proposal include kennels and leashes.   The chief came to the committee tonight to see if they were in favor of this proposal, and they stated that they were. 

The vice president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 71 was present and spoke, as did one of the parking enforcement officers who would be losing her job if this proposal was approved and implemented.  Carl Powell said that he empathizes with the city’s budget woes, but he feels that these are relevant jobs vital to the city.  He felt that the “quality of service would be diluted.  He wholeheartedly welcomes new positions into the union, and would openly welcome negotiations with the city to serve the city better.”  Reese Kemen, one of the three parking enforcement officers, spoke on her own behalf.  She stated that “she works hard; the $68,878 she made for the city in parking citations year-to-date exceeds her salary and benefits.”  She wanted to know who would train the CSO’s.

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