Safety fee will be decided later

ROGUE RIVER — City officials will put off consideration of a possible $5 public safety fee until the March election.

Though the City Council could approve the fee on its own, members preferred to get citizen support and to wait until after the November general election, City Administrator Mark Reagles said.

A $5 surcharge would provide $85,000 to $95,000 for salary and equipment for a fourth police officer for the city's police department, currently made up of a chief and three officer positions.

Reagles said the council worried that November's election would elicit a "no" voter mentality because of a slew of money issues already slated for the ballot.

"I think the conversation was that November is no time to be out there with the big boys, so they're going to postpone it at least until March," Reagles said.

"We have a position that's been empty a couple months now and we can't fill it, so what's the sense in getting a levy passed and then not be able to fill it?" he said.

With only two officers and himself currently in the department, Chief Ken Lewis has been taking on all overtime and standby needs in recent weeks. A salaried employee, Lewis does not receive overtime compensation.

"He's not getting paid for it, he's just doing it," Reagles said.

"He decided, rather than have them all stressed out, he would just take it on."

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