Trustees Discuss Disbanding the Granada Police Department

Granada Water Tower

Granada Water Tower

Stating that the town’s budget is financially strained, some Granada Trustees are considering eliminating the town’s two-person police department, consisting of Chief David Dougherty and secretary Elsie Martin. The Trustees have held two town meetings and one special meeting to review the matter.  The most recent discussion was on Wednesday, July 9 as several citizens appeared to voice their concerns about the potential lack of a full time police department.

The first proposal came during the regular June 11 meeting when Trustee Shannon Venturi moved to disband the police department.  However, some Trustees wanted some discussion at least, before a vote was taken so they could assess the budget and the impact the absence of a police department would have for the town and residents and the motion was rescinded.  A June 23 workshop meeting was held as the Trustees discussed department expenses and how Granada wasn’t able to generate revenue to justify the annual salary expense.  Trustee Venturi stated that her decisions were based on economics only.  Several options included reducing the 40 hour work week to 30; using a code enforcer for routine events and let the Prowers County Sheriff’s department cover more serious problems and include more night patrols.  The meeting ended with no action and the matter was tabled.

During the July 9 regular meeting, Trustee Martin Jensen said residents had asked him for a list of duties and responsibilities for the department, with Venturi reiterating that there were no personal issues involved, but only the lack of funds to cover department expenses.  One or two residents suggested raising taxes on utilities to cover a shortfall and one or two asked about increasing coverage from the Prowers County Sheriff’s office.  Granada’s working budget comes from a sales tax and a franchise tax on utilities.  Senior Sheriff’s Deputy Sam Zordel, who attended the meeting as well as County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, explained that other smaller communities have no specific patrol routine, but will respond to Wiley, Hartman or Bristol as calls warrant.  Some residents asked about the response time from the county if someone was breaking into a business or home compared to a full time officer located in Granada.  Another asked where the town could find a full time, certified officer who would be willing to work for just 30 hours a week.  By comparison, Holly has a contract with the sheriff’s office for a regular, 40 hour per week patrol.  Commissioner Andrade explained that Holly contracted for the service which costs $40,000 a year and a vehicle supplied to the department by Holly.

Granada Police Chief David Dougherty and office manager Elsie Martin said some earlier grants have been used to pay for a second officer and that might be the best option for additional funding.  He said a cops grant is available, but there is no funding available from JAG at the present time.  Dougherty added he was unaware of the proposal to disband the department until he read the June 11 meeting agenda.  He also said he had no reason to believe the revenue and expenses in the annual budget would cause his department to be eliminated.  The chief added that he puts in extra, non-paid hours each year, which by his calculations is about $20,000.  The last patrol officer was grant-funded at $28,800 and his benefits to the position were paid by the town.   Trustee Glenn Otto, who acted as mayor in C.W. DeForest’s absence, said the town budget has been short for the past few years and the Trustees need to come to some kind of solution. A motion to table the agenda item for future discussion was approved.

The Trustees discussed setting a price for water sales for the CDOT project to construct a new overpass east of town, spanning both the railroad tracks and the Granada Creek.  An estimated 12 million gallons, about 70 acre feet of water is on the table, as well as an additional 100,000 gallons to another company.  Trustee Otto suggested that non-chlorinated water be used from a source west of town, which, under the proposal would be hauled to the site by semi for storage in a temporary holding tank.  He believed that source would not have any impact on in-town water pressure.  Additionally, Granada is not connected to LAWMA water, as their source is from a different aquifer, according to Trustee Venturi.  Some estimates ran to 133,000 gallons per day over a three month period.  The company is expecting an price estimate by July 11.  Town maintenance supervisor, John McMillan, was not able to attend the meeting and will be contacted for his input.

Town Clerk, Jackie Malone, had some optimistic news regarding the town’s landfill and dike system.  She said the state had given the landfill a ‘4’ rating out of a potential ‘5’.  Granada’s landfill operation had been in violation of some state health ordinances and regulations which are being corrected.  She added that the Army Corps of Engineers surveyed the levee last month and noted that recent improvements met with their approval.  Commissioner Buxton-Andrade told the Trustees that a state landfill meeting is set for July 25 and Prowers County interests are being covered by Keith Siemsen, Environmental Health Program Manager.  A checklist of regulations is being developed for use by smaller communities throughout the state.

In other action, Dee Melgosa inquired about the need for a permit to conduct a parade for the Fiesta de Colores celebration, set for September 12 and 13 in Granada.  Melgosa, an officer of the club, said there are six candidates for Queen of the festival and a banquet is planned for the 12th for candidates and parents and a parade and celebration in the town park is set for Saturday, September 13.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedFestivalGranadaHot TopicsLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyTransportation


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