The needs of the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department have moved to the top of the list for the White Salmon City Council on the evening of Nov. 3. The council set priorities for 2005 funding from the Klickitat County Economic Development Authority (EDA).
With little debate, the council unanimously backed a motion by council member Penny Morris to prioritize the Police Department's request for a 4x4 police vehicle. A proposed new police computer system was ranked second.
Traditionally, a community's first choice gains support for funding from the county, which makes a pool of money available each year from its landfill revenue account.
Before the council's vote, Mayor Linda Jones stressed the need to make public safety the city's primary objective for next year.
"There are eight items on the list, and three are related to public safety," said Mayor Jones. "I recommend we choose two of those three."
Jones recommended that the council choose any two of three items that were requested by the local Police Department:
Five tasers, 11 ballistic helmets, and gas masks with filters ($11,020);
A 4x4 police patrol vehicle ($30,000);
A computer system program to connect to Klickitat County Sheriff's Office system ($30,000).
The requests go before the EDA for funding approval in January.
The 4x4 vehicle would fill a key need for the police force. Currently, the department has only one 4x4, and it is 14 years old.
"We don't know what will happen with the EDA, but we need police equipment," Mayor Jones said. "We're getting desperate."
Jones pointed out that the police only use the 4x4 currently in the fleet in the winter because it is not in very good condition.
The new computer system, if approved, would replace technology dating from 1992 and allow the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department to tap into the system used by the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office.
"It's inefficient, and it's slow. We're not able to get the information we need because the data base just won't allow it," said Police Chief Rich Cortese.
Items that were not endorsed by the City Council included a feasibility study for creation of a Parks & Recreation Department ($22,500); roofing and exterior painting for City Hall ($24,500); reconstruction of First Avenue ($44,000); purchase of a reconditioned street sweeper ($65,000); and a feasibility study for a community activity center ($18,500).
This year, Klickitat County anticipates having approximately $350,000 from the landfill fund to distribute among communities within the county for economic development, public safety, and community enhancement projects.