Riley County Law Board members and RCPD officials discuss budget points Friday afternoon inside Manhattan’s City Hall. (Staff photo by Brady Bauman)

The Riley County Police Department will again see a hike in its budget for 2019.

The Riley County Law Board voted 4-2 during a special meeting Friday afternoon to up spending for the RCPD by $907,703 for next year — a raise of 4.385 percent compared to 2018. The RCPD proposed a budget of $21.6 million. The 2018 budget totaled $20.7 million. In 2017, the board approved a budget of $20.3 million.

The budget now moves to publication before it is formally approved following a public hearing during the board’s June meeting.

Manhattan City Commissioner Mike Dodson, Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson, Riley County Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez and board chair Craig Beardsley voted in favor of the increase. Manhattan City Commissioner Usha Reddi and Riley County Commissioner Ben Wilson voted against. Be Stoney, an at-large member appointed by the city, was absent.

In comparison to a previous budget proposal by the RCPD in April, “Draft 2” of the 2019 budget adds three corrections officers, a video clerk, a 1.7 percent COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) increase and cuts one courthouse security screener position.

An additional proposal, titled “Draft 3,” keeps the COLA increase, video clerk position and courthouse security cut, but did not add any corrections officers. That proposal totaled just short of $21.5 million.

“‘Draft 2’ is not ideal — frankly, we’ll have to increase both patrol, investigations as well as corrections and dispatch in the future to meet all the needs we have,” said Wilkerson, before making the motion to approve “Draft 2” of the RCPD’s budget proposal. “We took somebody in (the hospital) awhile back where we had a mentally ill patient, an older gentleman who was swinging a stick or a bat at cars going by. We took him into the hospital and he was being combative and we had patrol officers staying there at the request of the hospital. There’s a lot of people who make requests for service from the department.”

Still, Wilkerson — who also described many instances of unpaid overtime throughout the department — said he saw “a good value all around” with the proposal.

Reddi was not pleased by the timing of Wilkerson’s motion following presentations by RCPD Director Brad Schoen and Detective Brian Johnson.

“I’m surprised a motion is being made so quickly — we haven’t discussed anything,” she said. “I’m not in favor of it. We have a bigger discussion and to assume that the rest of us don’t feel the same way as far as the needs of RCPD is a little bit insulting.

“Being in the school system, as well working with a lot of domestic violence issues and working with K-State and other entities that deal with rape, working with Via Christi, I understand the needs that we have in our community. But at the same time we are also accountable for property taxes, and when you don’t have a say in property taxes it’s easy to make a motion for nine-hundred-some-odd-thousand-dollars.”

Earlier proposals by the RCPD offered cuts to officer positions, including school resource officers and Manhattan Regional Airport security. Reddi said that wasn’t a route she was willing to go. Instead, she referenced the difference between 2017’s approved salary total of $12.8 million in comparison to actual expenses that showed $12.2 million as an example of places extra money can be reallocated.

“Although I’d like to have no increases at all… I can’t see much difference between the tax impact on the ‘Budget 3’ verses the ‘Budget 2’ — that is, it’s about $100,000 — and we lose the three corrections officers,” he said. “I think we’re at the originally ‘Budget 2’ now that we worked down from ‘Budget 1.’ So, I just don’t see any logically alternatives, particularly given some of the things that have been said here, and reiterated by the director and also by Detective Johnson — I think those are relatively persuasive arguments about morale and service to the community, so that’s kind of where I’m at on this.”

Wilson said he preferred “Draft 3” during his comments, while Rodriguez, who seconded Wilkerson’s motion, cited training needs swayed his decision.

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