LA QUINTA- Proposed cuts to La Quinta’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year could mean one less motorcycle officer and other cuts impacting the city’s police department, a lieutenant said Monday.
The La Quinta City Council will discuss the preliminary budget — which includes a proposal to eliminate funding for the motorcycle officer and four city positions — at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Police Lt. Raymond Gregory said the department relies on its five motorcycle officers for DUI enforcement, responding to traffic collisions and other traffic control needs. “The times of the year that we really get stretched thin is when we have really (big) events or the first couple weeks after school starts,” Gregory said. “It will be even harder to stretch it with four.”
According to a staff report attached to the proposed budget, the city has to make cuts because of a 17 percent decrease in sales tax and low hotel occupancy rates.
“This (economic) slowdown has impacted most, if not all city revenue categories and occurred quite suddenly,” the report states.
City spokesman Brett Plumley was not immediately available for comment.
Gregory said the situation is unprecedented for the Coachella Valley city.
“This is the first time that anybody seems to remember that the police chief and the police department have put together a budget and the city management came back and said, `Okay, we believe you, that’s what you need, but we’re not going to be able to fund all of it,”‘ he said.
Under the proposed budget, the city would stop paying for a portion of the funds for a motorcycle officer whose salary is partially funded by the AB 158 Indian Gaming Mitigation Grant.
That funding is scheduled to end by July, Gregory said.
“They’ve always been able to maintain their public safety,” the lieutenant said. “The disappointment to us is that it takes a lot of time to develop these programs.”
According to a staff report, the overall requested budget for police services increased by $364,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This represents the largest service level cost in the proposed budget,” according to the report.
The city also plans to cut four positions, including a museum manager, an assistant planner and a secretary and a traffic engineer from the Public Works Department.