Wednesday Mar 02 2011
Town traffic cop on chopping block
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
Lack of state funding means Loomis to foot $171,000 bill
Loomis may lose its designated traffic cop because of state budget cuts. According to Roger Carroll, Loomis financial director, the cost for the town’s designated traffic enforcement officer is $171,000. That cost includes the officer’s pay, benefits, cost and maintenance of the vehicle and equipment, ongoing training and administrative services. The state pays $100,000, or 60 percent, of that cost through a grant for supplemental law enforcement funded by sales tax revenue. “The $100,000 per-year grant program ended with the current fiscal year and there is no indication that Gov. Brown intends to extend the program. If we plan to keep the officer, the town will have to fund the entire position out of the general fund,” Carroll said. Bob Brodovsky, a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy, serves as the town’s full-time, 40-hour per week, specially trained, traffic enforcement officer. Capt. Dave Harris, of the Placer County Sheriff’s substation in Loomis, said, “The traffic officer position is intended to reduce traffic accidents in Loomis. It’s pretty simple. The number of tickets written directly correlates to a reduction in traffic accidents. This has been proven, not just in Loomis, but in cities throughout the state.” The traffic officer position was added in 2001, Carroll said. At that time, sufficient state supplemental law enforcement fund reserves paid for the position and no portion of the officer pay came from the town’s general fund. Carroll said the grant has been funded on a year-to-year basis for the last three years. “We continued to get an additional $100,000 each year for the officer, but the contract exceeds $100,000 per year and the excess ran out in 2006-2007 and a portion of the cost has since been charged to the general fund,” Carroll said. Carroll said the state has not been meeting its funding obligation for this year’s law enforcement grant and he is unsure if the state will pay it in full. He said the town should have received $50,000 from the state by now, but only $31,000 has been received. In addition to the traffic officer, the town also pays the county $1.3 million for full-time sheriff services. “Our regular contract gets us one officer ‘round the clock,’ although he/she is shared with the surrounding county during the night shift,” Carroll said. Jerry Young, service manager of A & J Repairs on Taylor Road, said he thinks the town should keep the traffic officer “as long as they don’t have to give up something somewhere else.” “He’s needed, for sure. There are a lot of people driving too fast on Taylor Road. We don’t need them around our high school kids,” Young said. Young also said that in the coming years, when Caltrans closes bridges on Interstate 80 and reroutes traffic onto Loomis roads, that the state should pay for traffic enforcement caused by increases in street traffic. Young was referring to the Caltrans Nine Bridge Raising project that will raise the height of local bridges over Interstate 80 in order to meet federal safety standards. Katy Dandini, of Loomis, said she doesn’t think a designated traffic officer is needed. “Residents and people coming through Loomis know the speed limit. I think the resources could be spent on other things like the park, or promoting downtown businesses,” Dandini said. Her husband, Larry, agreed and said, “The town’s not big enough.” Glynda Shaw, of Loomis, said, “Seems like an awful lot of money to spend on an extra officer strictly for traffic.” Amy Edwards, of Loomis, said the town should save the money and use it for more family things to do in town and more community events.