Debate to Fill Pending Vacancy
11:42 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Committee Clarifies Keokuk Police Staffing

Some of the recent questions surrounding the potential staffing level for the Keokuk Police Department have been answered, but others remain unanswered.

Keokuk City Council
Keokuk City Council

There are currently 27 employees in the department.

Police Chief Dave Hinton says that is the lowest level he feels his department can operate at and still properly serve and protect the city.

There have been a number of times in recent years, though, where staffing dipped below that level due to retirements, resignations or injuries.

An example of that is the fact that the department should dip below 27 again in a matter of weeks due to a pending retirement.

The Keokuk City Council was prepared to officially set the staffing levels for each department for the current fiscal year, last month, but delayed the vote because the resolution called for just 26 police employees instead of 27.

The subsequent confusion led to a roughly 75-minute meeting of the city's finance subcommittee Thursday night.

Finance Director John Russell offered some clarification to the staffing issue during the meeting.

He told the panel the current budget is based on 27 employees in the Keokuk Police Department.

He also said that he, Mayor Tom Marion and Committee Chairman Roger Bryant chose to drop the staffing level to 26 because of budget concerns.

One such concern is that Keokuk is projecting a $100,000 reduction in local option sales tax revenue this year.

The meeting also covered issues such as pension costs and employee benefit levels.

In the end, the panel appeared to favor maintaining 27 employees after the pending retirement, but wants the full city council to decide due to those budget concerns.

The Keokuk Police Department is the only department facing a potential cut to its current budget.