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Local

Council to review potential public safety hires

IT technician position, setting a property tax maximum also on docket

Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik displays old gear that was donated to a fire station in Mexico. The Newton City Council will decide whether to move forward with its No. 1 goal and hire new public safety personnel for the fire and police departments. The city council meets 6 p.m. Monday at Newton City Hall.
Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik displays old gear that was donated to a fire station in Mexico. The Newton City Council will decide whether to move forward with its No. 1 goal and hire new public safety personnel for the fire and police departments. The city council meets 6 p.m. Monday at Newton City Hall.

Newton City Council will make a decision Monday night whether to move forward its No. 1 goal to employ new public safety positions.

Members of the city council are scheduled to review staff’s requests to restructure city positions for the Newton Fire Department and Newton Police Department.

City of Newton believes these new positions will better assist their respective departments. For the past year, staff have identified a “significant weakness” in the fire station: lack of available backup for regular administrative services, especially after the fire marshal retired.

Staff proposes to hire a full-time secretary to cover the “paperwork side of the fire marshal position” in order to cover scheduling, documenting and reporting for the new commercial inspection program. This position will also provide backup to current administrative office workers.

Also included in the fire department’s proposal is to establish a new job title and altered pay scale for the EMS/training coordinator to match assigned job duties.

Struggles extend to the police department, which has reported an increase in calls for service and a higher demand for proactive policing services. Staff ask two sworn police officers join the department. The employee relations committee has reviewed this recommendation.

An upcoming retirement and restructuring of duties in the investigations division also allows for the elimination of one I.D. tech position. It is also recommended to council to replace that position with another sworn officer.

Adding more public safety personnel has been a continued and much debated topic of conversation for city staff and elected officials for the past few months.

Hiring a full-time IT technician

Pending the council’s decision, the city may have a full-time IT technician onboard to assist all departments and divisions.

Currently, the city contracts its IT services externally. Staff said Computer Resource Specialists “has been a great resource for many years,” but is only able to address critical needs one day per week.

City staff reportedly spends 2,340 hours per year on IT-related tasks, which is taking away time to spend on critical duties.

Staff recommend the council hire a IT technician position.

Setting maximum property tax dollars

Before considering its proposed ordinances and resolutions, the Newton City Council will open a public hearing to discuss the approval of setting a maximum in property tax dollars the city can receive for fiscal year 2021.

According to the city council agenda, a new requirement to the budget process is to hold an additional public hearing — such as this — to set maximum in property tax dollars if property tax revenues increase more than 2 percent from the previous budget year in certain levies.

The library and debt service levy are not included in this arrangement.

City staff have determined the maximum FY21 property tax dollars for the affected levies to be $6,913,225. Notice of the public hearing was printed in Newton Daily News and on all City of Newton social media accounts.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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