Lebanon City councillors unanimously voted at its meeting last Wednesday evening to lease three Lebanon Justice Center jail beds to the Oregon Department of Corrections.
The ODC has had issues with running out of room at the Linn County Jail for their Parole and Probation operations, Lebanon Police Department Chief Frank Stevenson said. By leasing out the bed space, the city is expected to generate about $72,000 in funding, which would be used to hire another officer, whose duties could include running the jail.
City councilor Robert Furlow asked if leasing out the beds would increase jail expenses.
Stevenson responded that the expenses would be minimal as housing the extra inmates would only cause minor increases such as in the cost of food.
Following the approval of leasing jail beds, city manager Gary Marks and Stevenson led a discussion about police staffing levels.
The discussion was a follow up to a discussion at the February 2018 council meeting where city Councilor Jason Bolen questioned if statistic used was the best way to measure law enforcement staffing levels. Bolen was absent at Wesdays meeting.
"The way police staffing is measured, which compares the number of police officers to the current population, one could argue that there is no real consideration given for demographic traits, crime rate/trends, and geographic or service requirements of any particular community," Stevenson said. "A more logical and effective manner of comparing police staffing relates to a comparison of obligated (reactive) patrol time versus unobligated (proactive) patrol time."
By using this measurement Lebanon Police Officers worked an average of 4.5 hours of unobligated time per 12-hour-shift in 2017, Stevenson said.
By adding two positions to the Lebanon Police Department, from it current staffing levels, it would take officers to 50/50 split, Stevenson said.
Marks added that way to pay for an addition officer may be to use revenue from marijuana taxes, while he doesn't have enough confidence from that will be enough this year fund another officer yet on the upcoming budget, the city council may want to consider adjusting the budget during the next fiscal year after the budget is passed.
In other business,
- The city council voted established an ad hoc committee to start the creation of a historical museum. This comittee is similar to committees created for Strawberry Plaza and the Lebanon Arts Commision.
- The council voted to raise water and stormwater rates by 2.7 percent. That rate adjusts for the rate of inflation. Wastewater rates were not increased.
- The city signed a lease agreement with the Lebanon Community School District for them to rent out the Santiam Travel Station for their meetings. The district will pay $1,200 per year for 12 meeting per year and will pay an extra $100 if they host more than 12 meetings in a year.