Brevard City Council began reviewing the budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year on Monday evening and although it was early in the process, there were some initial questions about adding some full-time positions to the local payroll for the next fiscal year.
The city of Brevard has not increased its full-time staff since 2017, and the proposed budget, if approved, would add a total of nine full-time staff in various departments.
Of particular note is a request from Brevard Police Chief Tom Jordan to add a full-time Code Enforcement Officer to his department responsible for investigating and enforcing violations of the city nuisance ordinance such as abandoned vehicles, noisy animals, overgrown grass and other complaints. made in residential areas.
Code enforcement is currently the responsibility of the Brevard planning department and those city officials would still maintain some code enforcement control over zoning regulations if changes are made, but the new police department employee proposed would be a sworn agent who has been cross-trained to address a specific city. code application issues.
Councilman Aaron Baker said he hadn’t heard many calls for the change from members of the public and wondered if it was necessary.
“I’m just not sure I’ve heard any citizens calling for us to do this,” he said.
Acting City Manager Steve Harrell said he personally felt the need to strengthen code enforcement during his short time here.
“I’ve been driving around Brevard and there are a lot of public nuisance and public safety issues that we really should be addressing and it takes an extra person to get there,” Harrell said.
Jordan said the most important aspect of the proposed new position would be handling nuisance reports for the good of everyone involved.
“The key when you hear about code enforcement being linked to the police is that you don’t want it to be too harsh in the sense of ‘Oh no, here comes the police,'” he said. he declares. “There has to be an education component. There still needs to be an awareness component. It’s more than just assigning additional agents to do it.
Jordan emphasized that his new code enforcement position will be both proactive and responsive to neighborhood complaints in order to strive for the peace and safety of everyone involved.
“We have a responsibility to the people who live in these neighborhoods where the nuisance is created,” he said. “In some of these residences there are mental health issues, as well as criminal complaints, and that can make it risky for our staff. This is something to keep our municipal workers safe.
Councilwoman Geraldine Dinkins suggested that any potential city employee in this role should be respectful of those who may violate local ordinances because of their specific age and background.
“We have people who have been here for a long time and who live a certain way, and we have to respect that to a certain extent,” she said. “We don’t want to make poverty or even old age people who just can’t deal with things like they used to for something that is punishable by law and be punished in the first round.”
Jordan pointed out that this was all part of his proposal to add the new position.
“Part of education is identifying socio-economic or mental health issues and directing people to the services that are available,” Jordan said. “We would really like to do that outreach to make sure we’re pointing people in the right direction.”
Another staffing issue raised Monday evening involved a request to add three full-time positions to the Brevard Fire Department. Transylvania County and the City of Brevard currently share funding for one full-time position, as well as several part-time paid volunteers, but there is a proposal in the budget to cover three of those positions to employees at full time who will respond to first response medical calls from 8 a.m. to midnight.
The city recently received an additional request from Transylvania County to have these new positions staffed so that first response medical calls are answered by the Brevard Fire Department around the clock.
Harrell said Fire Chief Bobby Cooper is awaiting more information on this request in order to provide a detailed analysis of personnel changes at the next budget workshop scheduled for Monday, May 2 at 5:30 p.m.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 16 and a third workshop (if needed) is scheduled for June 6 with the passage of the 2022-23 fiscal budget expected at the June 20 city council meeting.
Jonathan Rich can be reached at (828) 883-8156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.