Calumet debates essential services budgets

CALUMET — Members of the Village Council disagreed over budget allocations for the Administrative Office and Police Department during last week’s meeting to adopt the 2020 budget.

Trustee Nathan Anderson entered a motion to reduce the Police Department from two full-time officers to one full-time officer and one part-time officer, which would save the village $30,000 per year.

Trustee Paul Mihelcich seconded the motion in order to open the motion to discussion.

“I hate deficit budgets as much as anyone,” said Trustee Roxanne King, “but I believe there are many places in the budget where the Finance Committee can look at it and make reductions, and it is not necessary to achieve a no-deficit budget at this point.”

She said she would prefer the council approve the budget as it is now, then task the Finance and other committees with finding expenses that can be trimmed, or apply methodologies that can be used to seek grants that can be used to balance the budget in other ways, than summarily choosing to cut the police department without first considering all options.

Trustee Virginia Dwyer said was disturbed by the motion, because discussion should take place on such a matter before a budget meeting, and to bring it up on the day the budget needed to be adopted was inappropriate.

“As elected officials, we have a couple of roles to play here to keep the public safe,” Dwyer said. “Whether it’s law enforcement, keeping the streets clean, or whatever, we have to be fiscally responsible. We have more than 600 complaints already, a tremendous amount of complaints in this village. I think last year, it turned out to be like one for each person who lives here.”

She said that in the meantime, there are two people working in the office who are not under consideration of having hours cut, and the village cannot do that to Marc Klein in the Street Department, either.

Agreeing with King, she sited other areas of the budget that should be considered first.

“We’ve got things like $10,000 for light bulbs. Really?” she said. “Five thousand dollars for parks and culture. Really? I mean, there are so many things in this budget now, so much fat in here, and you want to get rid of vital services for this town?”

After further discussion, the motion failed, but only by one vote, with Mihelcich breaking a tie vote.