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Carnation cuts police services

CARNATION _ When voters rejected the $102,000 police

services levy last year, they didn't only cut money out of the budget, they

also eliminated one officer from the roster.

Starting next month the Carnation Police Department — through its

contract with the King County Sheriff's Office _ will reduce police

services from three deputies and a half-time chief to two officers and a

part-time chief.

Deputy Chad Devore will return to county patrol, leaving Chief

Bonnie Soule and officers Bill Brown and Scott Allen to monitor the city.

The Carnation City Council was forced to look at alternative levels

of police coverage after the levy failed twice last fall by a fraction of a

percent. The council considered four options: the current level of

service, which would create a $95,000 deficit; two officers and a part-time

chief ($14,500 deficit); two deputies ($24,000 surplus); or no

designated officers and a half-time chief ($74,000 surplus).

"I like the [option we voted on] because when we went to the

voters, we made it very clear it was paying for one officer," said Councilman

Don Raybuck. "We didn't say, `We'll take away your Carnation cars or

Carnation [uniforms].'"

"And I feel uncomfortable going beyond that," he added.

Councilwoman Joan Sharp, however, told the other members she

was concerned about spending too much money on the police contract,

especially since the residents didn't support the initiative. She suggested

that the council eliminate the chief's position and convert to King

County Sheriff's Office uniforms instead.

"I admit I have concern over reducing police services," she said.

"[We need to be] fiscally responsible and listen to what the voters are saying."

The other four councilmembers were reluctant to cut out the

police chief from the budget because they said Soule is the city's only

consistent link with the Sheriff's office. The

chief also helps coordinate events that require police coverage, works with

the community and businesses, and supervises the city's deputies.

"It seems the function the chief does is community policing …

which is an essential part I wouldn't want to loose," Sharp said after some

discussion.

City Manager Woody Edvalson added that the charge of the

newly-formed Police Advisory Committee is to advise the police chief about

issues and programs that are important to the community. If the chief's

position were cut, the group wouldn't have a representative from the Sheriff's

office at the meetings.

The hot agenda item the committee will deal with now is to

research why the levy failed two times — whether it was because of a

dissatisfaction with the county services or the monetary aspect of taxes,

Edvalson said. So far there hasn't been any formal discussions on re-running a levy.

To pay for this year's amended contract, the council plans to

pull money from the General Fund to pay for the $14,500 that is needed

to supplement the $266,775 police services budget. The city must also

pay another $8,000 more than budgeted for the three deputies and one

half-time chief in January. That would leave approximately $52,000 in

the reserve fund at the end of the year.

The councilmembers were confident that the General Fund could

support the added burden this year, but said they would need to re-evaluate

the situation next year if no additional monies were found.

"From a budget standpoint it's not a practice that we would condone,

but there seems to be a greater community need to do this," said City

Manager Woody Edvalson. "So it's an educated risk we're taking and one

we hope not to repeat in the future."

The City of Carnation still needs volunteers to serve on

the Police Advisory Committee. The group will be made up of

Carnation residents, business owners, a school official and a high

school student. For more information about the positions or to apply,

call City Hall at (425) 333-4192.

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