Supervisors agreed to consider funding the following request from the Sheriff's and Fire Departments:

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50 gear bags, $1,500

75 hot shields, $6,150

Four firefighters without overtime $180,000

Fuels management overtime $9,000

Fuels management officer $25,000

Patrol deputy $82,800

Patrol secretary $37,788

Jail Sergeant $71,532

Jail deputy $57,400

Three communications operators $116,364

Two communication supervisors $123,082

Total $720,616

Public safety requests rate high??/

By Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City public safety officials requested Tuesday almost $721,000 in extra positions and equipment from the city's upcoming budget, a list which was whittled from one with requests over $1.5 million.

Requests for five dispatchers, four firefighters and four extra staff members for the sheriff's department topped public safety requests for the 2002/2003 fiscal year. Sheriff Rod Banister and Fire Chief Lou Buckley argued, as they do every year, that their departments are understaffed to deal with the increase in service they provide.

Public safety requests will have to compete with $172,975 in personnel requests presented so far from other city departments. City supervisors continue to hear city leaders' requests for extra funds in budget hearings Monday and Thursday, March 28. Supervisors will make final decisions regarding the budget -- from whether or not to raise property taxes and franchise fees to decisions regarding new personnel and community service funding -- on Thursday. The city's deficit is now estimated at just over $100,000. It was originally estimated at $790,000, due largely to the estimated loss of $1.2 million in Wal-Mart sales taxes.

City leaders continued a discussion that has been ongoing since 1998 about hiring extra firefighters, and agreed to consider adding four firefighters without overtime at a total of $180,000.

Supervisors challenged the need for an extra nine dispatch deputies in the next two years, but agreed to consider five dispatch positions. Mayor Ray Masayko expressed concerns that costs to fund the dispatch center, which have included in the last two years $2.5 million in a new building and computer system, were comparable to "an iceberg that seems to be exposed to me one spoonful at a time. "

Sheriff Rod Banister argued proper staffing of the dispatch center has been neglected so long, "we get farther and farther behind."

"Eventually you'll have to catch up with it," he said.

"Ideally we'd like to fund all these positions," Mayor Ray Masayko said. "At some point and time we are going to run out of resources and positions are going to wait."

Public safety has long been a funding focus of city leaders. Since 1997, supervisors have funded 38 public safety positions -- including nine positions for the Public Safety Complex in 1998 -- and poured around $4.1 million into equipment and technology from patrol cars and fire trucks to exercise equipment and a new dispatch system. The $23 million Public Safety Complex was finished in 1999, creating a new home for the district attorney, justice and district courts and creating a new jail.

The Fire Department operates on a $4.6 million budget, the sheriff on a $9.9 million budget, together accounting last year for about 34 percent of the city's $42.7 million budget. The two departments account for about 240 of the city's work force of just under 580 people.

Carson City supervisors and public safety staff also discussed Tuesday a variety of issues laid out in the public safety master plan. Issues put aside indefinitely included items such as requiring all buildings in the city to have sprinklers, while city leaders decided a new fire station in either east or northwest Carson City were not something worth worrying about in the near future. Many staffing issues, such as the dispatchers and extra firefighters, will be addressed in this and future budget sessions.


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