An extensive Village Board meeting was held July 14 as it lasted nearly 3 ½ hours.
One of the items the Board held a lengthy discussion on was the police department and specifically its staffing levels.
“We are below minimum staffing levels,” explained Police Chief Ron Pedrys. “Everyone’s short on staffing and equipment...Part-time is at a premium in this area.”
Pedrys said the department has four full-time officers when the recommendation should be six.
Board members acknowledged the time is now.
“We’ve kicked the can when it comes to police staffing,” said trustee Deb Rose. “We need to address this as soon as possible.”
The problem, like nearly everything else when it comes to government, is funding. For 2021, the Village is looking at nearly a $55,000 shortfall to hire a full-time officer.
“Our reserves are limited,” explained Administrator Ben Krumenauer. “We are tight, tight financially.”
Suggestions include hiring the officer now and making the cuts for other departments in 2021. That died pretty quickly.
No motions or actions were eventually taken. The Board did deem hiring a full-time officer for 2021 a priority.
The other main conversation topic was the mine.
Board members shared their thoughts on the joint meeting with the Town of Farmington board, which was held July 8.
Trustee Tim Anderson believed it was a good meeting, but felt more were needed. Trustee Van Burch echoed Anderson’s thoughts, yet, wondered, “Our infrastructure has to grow and expand, but where?”
The topic of extraterritorial zoning was mentioned, with some public members (who attended via video conference) asking the Board to enforce it now.
Board President Jeremy Buberl wasn’t ready, saying he preferred to discuss the revised resolution before going down that road.
“I don’t want to run roughshod over the town,” added trustee Bruce Gilliand.
Board members originally set another meeting with the Farmington board for 6 p.m., Thursday, but the time and date fell through due to scheduling conflicts. As of Monday, no new time and date have been set.
Special Events denied
The Board had two special events permits on its agenda. First, was one titled “Breathtaking God Invites You…” scheduled for Aug. 28 in the Osceola Braves parking lot. The event was described as a non-denominational Christian outreach for the community, featuring music, Bible message and comedy.
“I don’t feel comfortable with this at this time,” said Burch.
Burch’s thoughts were echoed by his fellow Board members especially with the increase of COVID-19 cases in Polk County.
“We are in unchartered territory right now,” said trustee Bob Schmidt.
The request to deny the permit was unanimously approved 7-0.
The second event was from the Osceola Chamber to hold a “Picnic to Go” event July 30. It was scheduled to be on First Avenue and described as an event “that promotes safe distancing while still being able to gather as a community.”
With the uneasiness the Board showed in denying the first permit, it came as no surprise the Chamber’s permit was denied as well, which was also by a unanimous vote.
Village President Jeremy Buberl expressed both parties could reapply at a later time.
Pedrys updated the Board for the month of June on the Police Department’s activities. The Department made five arrests and issued 22 traffic citations. Pedrys also reported two part-time candidates were hired and the hope is both should complete their field training by the end of October.
Todd Waters, Public Works Coordinator, informed the Board, parks are seeing very high traffic and the department is meeting the demands by maintaining the cleanliness of restrooms, sanitation and cutting of grass in public spaces.
Permits and Licenses
Approval was also granted for the Pizza Cellar to have a Class “B” Beer and Class “C” Wine License under new owner Zac Stoklasa.