Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Midfield applies for federal grant to hire police officers, Hueytown said NO

The city of Midfield will seek a federal grant to hire additional police officers, but Hueytown officials have decided to pass the money on because of concerns about funding the officers once the grant ends.The Midfield City Council voted unanimously last week for Mayor Gary Richardson to pursue $671,940 in grant money through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS from the U.S. Department of Justice. If Midfield receives the money, the city will use it to hire five police officers, said Richardson. The grant is for three years, but it stipulates that the city retain the officers an additional year after the grant ends.The city should know no later than Sept. 30 whether or not it will receive the money.Richardson said hiring the additional officers will show businesses and the community the city is striving for good public safety.However, the Hueytown City Council decided not to pursue the funds with a 3-2 vote under the same program.Hueytown would have used almost $500,000 in grant money to hire three additional officers and the city would have been required to keep the officers an additional three years at its own expense, said Police Chief Chuck Hagler.Hueytown council members expressed concern about projecting the city's finances four years into the future, especially with the country in the midst of an economic downtown. They also said they were concerned retaining the officers as required could potentially lead to layoffs in other departments if the economy does not improve.The council had split 2-2 in a previous vote on the issue.
Hagler said the department could have saved money by cutting overtime. Richardson said he was confident Midfield would be in a position financially to support the additional officers in the future. The city recently reached an agreement with Adamson Ford to lease space at the former Bill Byrd Kia site on the Bessemer Superhighway for two years with the option of extending the lease to five years.

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