Riley County Law Board members agreed Thursday to adopt a 2013 RCPD budget that is approximately 5.7 percent greater than the 2012 budget.
The $18.1 million document represents a $984,200 increase from 2012, which had a budget of $17.127 million.
The budget permits the addition of two new police officers to the force, as well as a civilian public information officer and a civilian CSI lab technician. It also includes a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment.
The budget passed 5-2, with city commissioners John Matta and Wynn Butler opposed. Both raised concerns about the need to cut costs, particularly in regard to raises in salaries, which compose the majority of the budget, and the hiring of new personnel.
The budget includes an increase of $542,700 for part-time, full-time and overtime salaries.
During public comment, Brian Johnson, an RCPD officer, argued for an increase in officer salaries, saying better pay will attract better job candidates and help with officer retention.
“This is a job that takes a toll,” he said. Johnson also told Law Board members that many RCPD officers do not live in Manhattan because it is too costly for them.
County Attorney. Barry Wilkerson said public safety is a responsibility of the Law Board and it would be irresponsible to give RCPD Director Brad Schoen a budget that required him to reduce the department’s police force.
Matta said it is also the responsibility of the board to make hard decisions, and it is not enough to say, “you can just spend whatever [for safety].”
Butler said he would like to see the budget reduced by 0.9 percent, though chairperson Karen McCulloh said she did not see how that would be possible without cutting the police force.
Before sending the budget along to the city and county, which are responsible for its funding, the law board still must publish the budget, hold a public hearing and then take a final vote.
Also Thursday, Law Board members unanimously voted to extend Schoen’s contract for one year, with his salary reflecting a 3.4 percent merit pay increase and a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment.