Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three Years--Then What for Florence Police?

The city of Florence has applied for 13 million dollars of Federal stimulus money, but not without controversy. Much has been said about Fire Chief Charlie Cochran applying for the funding of a new fire station without the consent of the city council, but we've yet to see a comment on the $600,000.00 award for additional police officers.

Mayor Bobby Irons has stated the funds will be used to hire five new police officers for the city. Assuming their average salary is $40,000.00 per year, the grant will fund employment for these officers for three years. Then what?

The current unemployment rate in Florence is 10.7%. Forrest Wright of SEDA has predicted the rate will not decrease, although he did not give a specific time limit for his prognostication. Kerry Sutherland of the Shoals Career Center feels the rate will rise even higher before the end of the recession. With an unemployment rate in the double digits for an indefinite period of time, it's unrealistic not to expect some decline in the population. With such a decline, loss of tax revenue is a given.

Considering these current economic conditions, Florence would do well to plan on how to maintain its current police force rather than how to add an additional five officers who will be terminated at the end of three years. Perhaps Mayor Irons is utilizing "The Horse Could Talk" model of government planning.

What's up with this: Russellville High School has initiated a Junior ROTC program for the upcoming school year. Kudos to the forward thinking administration and props to those who are participating in the program.