Belle aldermen against borrowing money from community center to purchase police car

By: 
Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

Belle aldermen rejected the mayor’s suggestion June 27 to borrow money from the Belle-Bland Community Center’s budget to fix Sgt. Brian Brennan’s police car, but were in favor sending the car in for repairs.

Aldermen Tony Gieck, Jeanette Streumph and Courtney Abel, along with Mayor Josh Seaver, City Clerk Frankie Hicks, and Treasurer Michelle Jones were present at the meeting. Hicks was the first to question the proposed budget.

Aldermen, the treasurer and clerk caught several errors in the budget and recommended changes. The greatest amount of discussion focused on the police department — starting with the Belle-Bland Community Center. Hicks asked if the community center had a big rollover amount. Seaver said yes, and he had an idea he wanted to run by the board when they got there.

“That white Charger, I had Daryl White look at it and it’s going to take about $2,000 to fix — to make it mechanically sound and to where it is not an absolute death trap,” Seaver told the board. “So my thought process was, you have $28,915 in reserve on the community center (budget), just sitting there. I was thinking if we can do it — I don’t know if we can or not — if we take $10,000 out of that and give it to the police in reserves for a police car, then their first $10,000 in fine revenue next year goes straight back to that. Then in the meantime the rest of the $28,000, I left a little in there for repairs, but put the rest and what they’re paying back and move it into the money market.”

Hicks asked what if they don’t make $10,000 in fine revenue.

“Then we need a new police force,” Seaver said.

Gieck said he is not on board.

“For the past four years they have been over budget,” Gieck said. “I am not willing to take away from something else and give it to them.”

Struemph agreed. Seaver said he understood the board’s reasoning, but his thought process was that they would just automatically take the first $10,000 in fine revenue the department made.

“Did the Community Center actually make that much money last year?” Gieck asked.

Jones said that amount was from the prior year. Gieck asked what the diagnosis was on the white police Charger.

“Something to do with the carrier bearing in the rear end and something with the transmission,” Seaver said. “Daryl said it was going to be about $2,000, maybe a little more to get it mechanically sound, and that is before they do any of the bodywork.”

Seaver said he also spoke with Adam Rogers who is supposed to be making bodywork repairs on the car from when Brennan hit a deer in December 2018. Capt. Kim Elrod has informed the board repeatedly during the monthly meetings that they have been waiting on Rogers to get the parts in so they could have the car repaired.

“We’ve been getting lied to this whole time on that; he has been waiting on us,” Seaver said.

Gieck said he figured that, and recommended they fix the car they have. Jones said she didn’t know anything about the deer accident being turned in to the city’s insurance. Hicks said she saw the car parked at the Greek Restaurant in town and the hood was pretty dented.

“So what is the total cost to fix the car?” Struemph asked.

“We got paid $3,000 something,” Jones answered. “But they’ve already spent it in their budget.”

Struemph asked what it was spent on.

“It was added into their budget and they already spent it — they are over budget,” Jones said. “Unless you want me to remove it and put it in this fiscal year? In which case they would be another $3,000 down for last year and starting off $3,000 down for this year.”

Abel said she didn’t know how the city could possibly budget for insurance payouts since they can’t plan on accidents. However, the payouts should not be added into the budget, they should be spent on repairs.

“I brought it in under miscellaneous,” Jones said. “Had I known they weren’t going to fix the car, I would have (withheld it) from the budget.”

Total costs to fix the mechanical issues and bodywork on the car will be a little over $5,000. The board agreed that fixing the vehicle would be the best-case scenario.

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