The Leesburg Police Department will to gain two new positions if actions during the Town Council budget mark-up session last night hold up.
Council members continued their budget work from the previous evening. While Monday night’s work session was relatively quiet, council members Tuesday had plenty of ideas for additions to the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget.
Both a dispatcher position, at $100,000, and a youth services coordinator position, at $85,000, found the support of a majority of the council during straw vote polling. The dispatcher position was identified by Chief Gregory Brown as the department’s greatest staffing need, as two current dispatchers are expected to leave the department in the coming months. To provide back-up for current dispatchers, Brown has had to take a sworn officer to fill in as a dispatcher, he told the council Tuesday. It takes about 12 months to adequately train a dispatcher, he added.
The department’s youth services coordinator would work closely with area juveniles, the school and court systems, to provide support to area youths and take a proactive approach in identifying at-risk youth, Brown said.
Councilman Ron Campbell proposed the addition of the youth services coordinator, while Vice Mayor Suzanne Fox was the one to advocate adding the dispatcher position. Both received four votes to be added into the budget.
The potential addition of the two positions to the General Fund budget now puts the real estate tax rate at 18.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from Town Manager Kaj Dentler’s proposed rate of 18.4 cents.
Campbell had suggested the council consider the addition of a variety of other positions to fill staffing shortages in the town government, but was only successful in finding support for the youth services position among all his suggestions. Other additions proposed by Campbell included a compensation study for $30,000; additional conferences for staff in the Town Attorney’s Office; an additional $500,000 for the town’s milling and paving program; and $25,000 for economic development marketing assistance. Councilman Josh Thiel also suggested the addition of a part-time position to help with weekend operations and maintenance at Leesburg Executive Airport, but was also not successful in garnering four votes to add that into the budget.
Mayor Kelly Burk also did not find support to add funding to conduct a community survey of residents and businesses, which she proposed to fund via staff vacancy savings. The cost of that was estimated at $30,000.
The council’s final budget mark-up session is scheduled for Monday, April 9, with a vote on the budget and tax rate expected the following evening. More information on the budget can be found at leesburgva.gov/budget.