City tables purchase of police cars, officer discussion a second time

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 11/8/23

BELLE — Belle aldermen on Oct. 25 revisited purchasing one or two more police cars from a Phelps Health in Rolla, and again decided to table the discussion on the recommendation of the mayor.

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City tables purchase of police cars, officer discussion a second time


BELLE — Belle aldermen on Oct. 25 revisited purchasing one or two more police cars from a Phelps Health in Rolla, and again decided to table the discussion on the recommendation of the mayor.

During the special meeting, Mayor Daryl White, Jr., introduced the topic of purchasing another police car from Phelps Health and again decided to table the discussion until they had more information.

“At the last council meeting, we were talking about adding another vehicle to our fleet to be used as a police car or if we have meetings and training,” White said. “(Marshal Jerry Coborn) had filled us in on some of the cars for sale at the hospital in Rolla. I did go look at those today, but since they are going to be put up for bid and stuff, I think that is probably something we should talk about later.”

White said something similar during the regular Oct. 11 meeting, when Coborn asked the board for a budget to attempt to bid on one or two police cars from Phelps Health. During that meeting, White had suggested discussing the topic in closed session.

“Since its gonna be an auction type thing it is probably something we don’t want to talk about up front,” White said.

Alderman Adam Padgett asked if they needed to make a motion.

“Do we need to make a motion saying we are interested and we will discuss it further?” he asked.

“Let’s just discuss it further at a later date,” White said.

Coborn said his contact at the hospital said that they would contact him the day before they advertise the cars for bid.

“The bids will be for a week,” Coborn said. “He thinks the same deal will be in effect, that the radios will go with the cars if it goes to a police department. If it goes to an individual they will remove everything out of it.”

Padgett asked about the light bars and Coborn said no, the light bars will not come with it. However, during the Oct. 11 meeting, Coborn informed the board that the city has light bars in storage.

“But as far as the radios in the car, which are $6,000 alone, if a police department buys it, then they keep the radios,” Coborn said. “If it is in there right now it will probably stay with the car because they have already taken everything that they were going to take out.”

Alderman James (Pudd) Mitchell asked if it was expensive to have a light bar installed. White said they had to put a similar light bar on the Coborn’s car.

Discussion ended abruptly. No action was taken.

White revisited and re-tabled an Oct. 11 request to hire a fourth full-time police officer.

“At the last meeting, we was approached to — we talked about adding another full-time police officer to cover shifts and stuff,” White began. “We spoke that we needed to figure out what the cost was and everything, (Charro Reasor, city treasurer), printed that. That is what it would cost to add another full-time deputy. Right now we are just talking position, not a person in general.”

Alderman Barb Howarth questioned the information.

“So what we’re deciding tonight, if we agree to it, would be to the salary?” Howarth asked.

White said the biggest decision is if they can afford it, if they need it and the pros and cons to it.

“Obviously we are never going to have too much law enforcement, but our police budget is pretty tight right now with some of the stuff that’s going on,” White said. “But, you know, it’s like anything. You hire a new employee, they are going to bring in some of their own revenue somewhat, too. It’s hard to put a price on safety and making everything better, but at the same time we don’t want to go any further backwards.”

Padgett asked Reasor what she thought and asked why they were already lopsided.

“We are,” she said. “We didn’t get the $34,000 that was budgeted into the police department from the SRO contract with the school because we didn’t fulfill that contract. So, in the budget, $34,000 was to cover an officer. I don’t see how they could stay within their budget. We would have to allocate more money from somewhere, too — because they are losing $34,000 off the top.”

Padgett said their overall budget has been good, and Reasor agreed.

“But then if we purchase another car,” Howarth began, but was met with silence.

Padgett asked how much the PD could utilize a fourth officer.

“Pretty much, we could utilize him,” Coborn said. “The one we’ve got working part-time right now, he is looking for full-time work and he is willing to work and it is based on who can offer him the position first. He has made it very clear he would like to move here. I think it would benefit us. He is green.”

White said they would need to talk about the specific person in closed session, right now they just wanted to discuss a possible position.

“These guys have to work their shifts and if they don’t work it, I’ve got to work it,” Coborn said. “We don’t have nobody to fill the gap if somebody needs time off.”

White said the budget is going to be tight, but it has been tight before.

“We can take the year-to-date budget, sit down, and see what we can allocate,” Reasor said.

White said they are a year in on the police department and knew when they started back up that the budget would be tight.

“We started from ground floor with nothing,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job. I think we are getting where we need to be. Obviously, I have said from day one that I would like to figure out 24/7 coverage, which I’m not saying we are going to have that right now. I do have some reservations about it, and I would like to sit down and talk to the police department more before I make a decision about it. We need the help, though, going into the holidays. I don’t want to turn the budget upside down, going into the red, but it is hard for me, having a family and stuff, I want to be able to provide my family with the best possible protection they could have. Everybody’s family. That is my opinion on it, I want to hear what you guys think.” 

Mitchell said he would like to get with Reasor and see where they are in the budget.

“We definitely want to start at the lower end, I am sure,” Mitchell said.

Padgett asked Reasor if, with her knowledge of the budget, she thought the city could absorb the cost of a fourth officer from elsewhere.

“When we approved the budget and went through the budget after we had it a while, we were doing real well in some other categories,” Padgett began. “Just in your opinion, you look at the budget more often than I do, do you think there are some areas we could absorb, that are doing well enough, we could absorb something like that?”

Reasor said because the city had a fourth employee in the public works department that had not been allocated for, she would have to look at the overall budget again.

“I would have to look, because that was the departments that were sitting ahead,” Reasor said. “Now that employee is no longer with us, I would have to look and see. I can have that ready in just a couple of days.”

Padgett asked about adding a year-to-date budget review to the November agenda.

“We have closed session personnel, we can talk about our police officer after while,” White said.