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While there won't be added police services, there won't be cuts in the department either

by: RAY PITZ - The new city budget, which holds the line on spending, was approved by the Sherwood Budget Committee Monday night during a meeting at Sherwood City Hall (shown here).Sherwood residents are getting a balanced budget with no extras to purchase park playground equipment, funding for a future community center or additional spending in the police department.

On Monday, the Sherwood Budget Committee, consisting of the Sherwood City Council and citizens, approved a $40.3 million budget. The budget calls for a $9.78 million general fund and effectively eliminates the equivalent of two full-time positions

The budget passed almost unanimously with Mayor Bill Middleton casting the dissenting vote.

It must now go before Sherwood City Council for final approval.

In voting to approve the budget, City Councilor Krisanna Clark noted that the city needs to address not only requests for extra police officers (as more businesses are added to the city) but also a need to support parks and fix city sidewalks.

“I support the budget but we’ve got to be looking forward,” said Clark. “I think the budget we have is a balanced budget and we need to move forward with that.”

During an April 22 meeting, Mayor Middleton had asked Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth where possible cuts could be made in his department and asked him to list them, saying he wanted to find some money to replace worn out parks play equipment and to help fund a community center. Groth has pointed out that Sherwood has less police officers and support staff per 1,000 residents than neighboring cities.

At Monday’s meeting, residents and representatives from the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce weighed in with their support of the police department.

Nancy Bruton, executive director of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce, said she believes police preserve the city’s quality of life. At the same time, she urged the city to support a more business friendly atmosphere.

Councilor Dave Grant said he didn’t like the low numbers of police officers per Sherwood resident.

“My No. 1 priority… is safety of the citizens,” said Grant.

Grant had suggested eliminating cost of living adjustments or pay raises for the upcoming year in order to find enough money to afford a police officer.

However, Councilor Robyn Folsom said that might not be a sustainable way to approach the budget long term. She said the city has 1 ½ years to find community center funding and that retail ventures that locate inside the center should provide some revenue. Folsom asked Groth if the police department needed more help this year and also if questions about possible cuts in his department had been addressed.

Groth said he was supportive of the current budget and that he hadn’t looked specifically at where operational changes could be made.

Following Monday’s meeting, Middleton, who spent 13 years as the city’s police chief, said his opposition to approving the budget wasn’t related to cuts not being made in the police department, rather he had combed the entire budget document and found ways to reduce expenditures in every department.

“I wanted to go line by line in everyone’s budget,” said Middleton. “I wanted solutions and answers.”

As an example of possible cuts, he said several thousands of dollars could have been cut in the city manager’s proposed travel budget.

During his campaign for mayor last fall, residents had asked Middleton to make cuts in the budget and make reductions to staff where needed if elected.

“So what’s our long term-plan?” asked Middleton. “Nothing.”

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