by ANDY SEVILLA
Kyle City Council members reversed course Tuesday night, in a split decision to accept a state grant that helps fund a victim’s coordinator position for the police department.
Council Member Samantha Bellows-LeMense, who first rejected the free money at an Oct. 3 meeting, had a turnabout and brought the matter back for council deliberation after having her funding concerns appeased by Police Chief Jeff Barnett.
The state grant puts forth $41,257.33 toward the funding of a full-time victim’s coordinator. The city is responsible for a $22,215.48 match. The state money only covered 65 percent of the total cost, though Barnett said that the city would really only need to come up with $6,924.17, and he’s found the funds to do it.
At the Oct. 3 meeting, Barnett told council members the money would come from the police department’s budget, prompting LeMense’s dissent for the project. She said Barnett produced the slimmest budget necessary to operate his department for Fiscal Year 2013 and that taking monies away for an unbudgeted position was out of the question.
Barnett, however, was not discouraged and produced measures to calm LeMense’s qualms.
Council members Tuesday night accepted a bid from Cabela’s of Buda, who holds a Federal Firearm Dealer License, for the purchase of about 37 firearms for a total of $4,855. The firearms were obtained by the police department through confiscations and awards. They are allowed to sell or destroy them.
Council members also accepted a donation of $3,260.43 from Target Corporation to the police department for crime prevention and community programs.
The newly acquired $8,115.43 would be used to cover the cash expenses for salary and fringe benefits required for the position, Barnett said.
The $15,291.31 needed for equipment, supplies and operation expenses, and travel and training, which the city is required to produce in order to get the state money, are budgeted for in this Fiscal Year’s police department’s expenses, Barnett said.
“I think we need to do this for a year and see what’s going on, see how it works for us,” said Council Member David Wilson.
The state grant helps fund the position for one year, and then the city can reapply for the grant to help fund another year, Barnett said, which struck a negative chord with council members Ray Bryant and Brad Pickett who dissented acceptance of the grant.
“To be scraping for nickels and dimes to pay for a position that won’t even be here in a year, I have a big problem with,” Pickett said while warning that grim financial times are advancing and that Kyle needs to be thrifty in preparation for “trouble ahead on our economy.”
Barnett said applicants will be made aware that the position is grant-funded with an expiration date.
Victims of crime in Kyle are sometimes left without guidance, Barnett said. San Marcos and Hays County both have a victim’s coordinator on staff and that need exists in Kyle, he said.
“(Kyle) officers are there doing their job – they’re making the arrests, they’re taking the witness statements and taking photographs of the victims – they’re doing their police work,” Barnett said. “But nobody, currently in our department, is there for the victims. And this is what this position will offer us for one year.”
LeMense, Wilson, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Hervol and Council Member Becky Selbera voted to accept the grant. Mayor Lucy Johnson was absent.
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