OTHELLO -- Othello plans to increase its police force by one officer next year and continue saving for some community projects.
Hiring the officer is included in the city's preliminary $4.5 million general fund budget for 2011.
The preliminary budget could become final today at the city council meeting. A public hearing on the budget is on the council agenda, and a vote could occur afterward.
The 2011 budget is about $176,000 less than for 2010, and city revenues are predicted to be about $41,000 more than expenses.
Mike Bailey, city finance officer, said the city's conservative plan aims to avoid any chance of layoffs. City staff were told to hold the line on the budget, he said. Fewer capital projects also are planned than in previous years.
The council did add money to fill a vacant police officer positionfor an estimated $64,000, including salary and benefits.
Police Chief Steve Dunnagan had asked the council to allow him to fill the position, which has been vacant since 2008. The officer would bring the force back up to 16 officers, including the police chief, he said in a memo.
"Without this extra position, our personnel resources have been allocated to patrol so basic police services could be fulfilled," his memo said and allow the department to initiate other programs, such as establishing a crime prevention office.
The police department accounts for more than $2 million of the $4.5 million spending plan.
Othello also plans to continue to save $100,000 each year for a new community center and skateboard park in 2011.
The community center could be fully funded after the 2012 budget. The city still needs to find land for the skateboard park, Bailey said.
The city plans to add a new city park and would like to build the community center on the same property, Bailey said. If the property is large enough, the skateboard park also might go there.