Oak Creek The Oak Creek Police Department went from a two-person team to a one-woman band Tuesday night after the Oak Creek Town Board cut the department's budget by nearly $11,000.
The budget work session, which was held after the Town Board appointed J. Elliott as the town's mayor, only lasted an hour. But it was enough time for the board to cut about $15,800 from its 2007 budget in an effort to restore the town's dismal general fund.
Although Town Board members agreed to cut expenses in several areas, including traffic control, contract labor and postage, the majority of the money was cut from the police department.
As of today, police Chief Linda Koile is Oak Creek's only law enforcement officer. Police Officer Chris Tritz has been hired by the Routt County Sheriff's Office, and his last day with the department is today. The town decided earlier in the year not to replace a former code enforcement position. The town's training officer, Mike Curzon, is not available for interim police work and serves only as a mentor to the department.
Town Board members acknowledged Tuesday that Koile would be taking on the duties of three people. However, they said amendments could be made to the police department's budget if the town later decides to hire another part-time police or code enforcement officer.
"Right now we just need to get through," Elliott said. "We need to be able to present a zero balance on the (general fund) budget. A bunch of things are going to change over the next few months that we'll deal with then."
The board cut $5,000 from the police department's budgeted salaries, $5,000 from the health and benefits allotment and $1,000 from the department's capital outlay, which was designated for the purchase of new computers.
Koile said she's worried she could get burned out on her job and that it might be difficult to hire police officers because nearly every law enforcement department in Routt County is understaffed.
"This town really can't operate with one officer. That's crazy," she said. "I just hope that when I need it, I can get a few days off here and
there without worrying about the calls - so I don't go
Koile said she has spoken with Routt County sheriff-elect Gary Wall about receiving assistance in an emergency, which she said Wall assured her wouldn't be a problem.
"He told me he'd be there for us in whatever capacity it takes for as long as it takes for us to get on our feet," she said. Historically, the Sheriff's Office has provided assistance to the Oak Creek Police Department in emergency situations, she said.
The Town Board also cut the town's cleaning budget from $4,800 to $1,200. Town employees will clean the offices, and professional cleaners will be hired only on an as-needed basis.
The Town Board also agreed to increase the cost of trash service by $1.50 a month. The increase raised the trash fund's revenue to around $79,400, which puts the fund in the black by $4,500.
Town Treasurer Sandy Jacobs said she would make to the changes to the budget within the next week to have it prepared for a final budget work session at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7. The town must submit its 2007 budget to the State of Colorado by Dec. 15.
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