San Jacinto to add 3 more deputies to police force

Even though the Riverside County board of supervisors is contemplating cutting some its Sheriff’s Department substations because of costs, the contract city of San Jacinto will add two special deputies and a traffic enforcement officer to its ranks.

The addition of the special deputies, called Problem-orientated Policing officers and an additional Traffic Enforcement officer, was approved by a 4-1 vote of the San Jacinto City Council June 20. The $1.25 million cost for the additional officers will be taken out of the city’s reserve funds, leaving the city’s 2017-2018 annual budget with an estimated $2.5 million deficit. The city council is hopeful, but not sure that new medical marijuana cultivation and processing licensing and fees and new residential and commercial development fees will make up the reserve fund deficit by next year.

During the council’s discussion, before adopting the revised fiscal year 2017-2018 budget, planned expenditures were set at $73,591,929, up from $72,591,929 on the original budget projection. With the additional officers to budget, the expenditures would increase yet another $1.25 million.

There was a suggestion from several members of the council that additional police officers would be needed due to the possibility the homeless and criminal element from Hemet might be pushed into San Jacinto as the neighboring city’s police force is being ramped up with the funding from the Measure U funding.

“They will be coming over here now,” Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz said. Those concerns were reflected by the remainder of the council who called acting San Jacinto Police Department police Chief John Salisbury to speak on the need for additional officers in the city. He noted that currently the city has only 6.2 officers per thousand residents, and the county is reportedly at 7.5 officers per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the national average.

Salisbury said with the three additional officers he recommends it would bring the city up to “a more respectable average of 7 or a little more.” He also recommended hiring two POP officers who would have the training to handle any of the major crime and crime prevention needs that come up by the residents in the city verses the line officers with less training. Initially the chief suggested the city add 6 officers to the force, but said at the council meeting, “actually adding six officers in the city is unrealistic.”

Councilman Andrew Kotyuk said he was concerned that in the more recent years the city council had been working hard to balance the budget and bring up the reserves. Even with cutting some other critical capital improvement projects to reduce the budget and add the officers would still set the reserve funds deficit back even more. Even with the deficit, the council was assured the city’s reserve funds would still meet the council’s minimum requirement.

After further discussion, Mayor Scott Miller called for the vote. The council in a 4 to 1 majority vote approved the budget, adding the cost of three officers in the budget to insure more public safety to its residents. Kotyuk was the only dissenting vote, but said he did recognize the need for more officers in the next year.

Salisbury said he was sure the new traffic officer position could be filled quickly. However, the POP officer training could take up to six to nine months before they could be fielded.

In other action, the council heard from staff that the review and processing cost for each application for the six permits available would be $16,500. The city council, by ordinance, has approved the establishment of three outdoor and three indoor marijuana cultivation businesses in the city. Each business would need a permit from the city and to authorize the city to perform regulation inspection of the permitted cultivation businesses. If the business seeks to change ownership, the new owners would have to pay $10,000. An annual review of the business was set at $6,000.

While the council voted 5-0 to approve the $16,500 per site fee for their license, Mayor Pro Tem Alonso Ledezma suggested the permit fee be raised to $20,000 just “so the city can make some money.” He was told by city staff and the attorney, fees can only be charged to the actual amount needed to perform the review. Staff said the city would be eventually be making its money from sales taxes on marijuana approved by the voters last year.

Other building and development fees would be collected from the marijuana farm developers as well to offset staff work, public safety, zoning and infrastructure costs. The fees could be moved up, if it was determined the $16,500 cost was too low. Ledezma, with that in mind, voted in the positive.

The city council has yet to approve or determine any fees on medical marijuana dispensaries within the city. Workshops may be later planned on the issue.

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