Council vote on police hire, Capital Improvement Plan begins | City briefs

Council vote on hire of new police officer

The Mercer Island Police Department is hoping to hire a police officer later this fall to be prepared for staffing changes as officers become eligible for retirement.

The City Council was to vote on the hire at its regular meeting on Mar. 17 after Reporter deadline.

The MIPD uses what is called a ‘Hire Ahead’ plan to keep the department fully staffed. The department hires new officers up to a year ahead of actual need, which allows the department to begin the months-long process to select and train police officers ahead of need.

However, the City Council had voted to freeze one of the two already authorized Hire Ahead positions for the 2011-2012 year because funding in the criminal justice fund was low due to lower tax receipts resulting from the poor economy.  The freeze restriction would need to be removed and the budget adjusted for a new officer.

Information from the city indicates that the police department averages two new hires each year due to anticipated vacancies.

The police department is asking the Council now for the authorization as a former Mercer Island Police officer, who has been working in California, is returning to the area and has applied for a position in the police force here.

The amount of turnover in the department is expected to increase soon. There will be seven Mercer Island Police officers who will be eligible to retire in 2015-2016, with four more in 2017-2018.

2015-2020 Capital Improvement Plan to begin

As of this week, the City of Mercer Island is beginning is 2015-2020 Capital Improvement plan. The city’s finance department will first forecast the amount of tax and fee revenue available for capital projects.

Among known capital improvement needs, the city also takes into account results from the 2012 biennial citizen survey which gathered information from residents regarding city facilities.

In its preliminary forecast, the city estimates that prices for homes sold on the Island should increase steadily and bring in more real estate excise taxes. At the same time, tax revenue on motor vehicle fuel is expected to continue to  decline.


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