Pembroke City Council reviewed the proposed 2009 budget line by line before a crowd of concerned residents at City Hall Thursday night.
Mayor Judy Cook said she hoped everyone had a better idea of what the council was up against after reviewing each item in the $1.756 million budget and listening to the opinions voiced by many.
"The economy is in the toilet. Everyone is hurting, and we have to do what we can in the best interest of the city," she said. "It’s going to get worse, and that’s why we have to make hard, hard decisions. There’s a lot of misinformation that’s been out on the street about the police department."
Councilmember Doug Kangeter told residents the council didn’t want to get rid of the city police department.
"It’s money. Everybody thinks we’re after Bill [Collins]. If we wanted to fire Bill, he would have been gone. We have the right to fire Bill. We aren’t after Bill, we’re after money," he said.
If the city reached a proposed $300,000 contractual agreement with the Sheriff’s department, it would be a one year, intergovernmental agreement.
"After one year we would reevaluated this and come to a conclusion whether we wanted to stay with the Sheriff’s department, go back to the city police department or come up with a different option," Councilmember Tiffany Walraven, part of the police committee, said.
In that one year period, the Pembroke police cars with decals would stay the same and the equipment would stay within the realm of the city police department in the event the city wanted to revert back to it.
"Included in the agreement would be the city funding four additional sheriff deputies [to come from the Pembroke PD], with two deputies to be located within city limits at all times, including two detectives and two investigators on staff," Walraven said.
According to the council, a decision about the police department has not yet been reached, but public safety is the main concern, and options continue to be considered, including additional budget cuts across the board.
Additional areas of concern for the crowd included cell phone budgets and the amount allotted for office supplies and employee benefits, including the city supplying the street department’s uniforms.
Council anticipates adopting the budget at the next council meeting on Dec. 8, as the new budget must be in place by Jan. 1.
Cook said they hope to be able to hold a town hall type meeting to discuss decisions prior to adopting the budget and would make sure to let the public know when the meeting was to be held.