3/20/2013 City won't receive Stellar grant Police cars, ambulances purchased by Council
By SARA KOVACH email@example.com
New Castle officials learned Monday they won't receive a grant worth millions of dollars for which citizens put in many hours of work.
Mayor Greg York announced at Monday's city council meeting he received a phone call from the Stellar Communities Program organizers saying the city was not selected as one of the six finalists.
"I was very disappointed," York said. "For what they were asking, our community should have been the one to beat. There was no other community that had more participation and input than ours."
York said he's not bitter since the city will continue to move forward with the six-year strategic plan.
"All things happened for a reason," York said. "We still have the same group of people behind us with these programs and projects. We're moving forward."
Cathy Hamilton, Hope Initiative executive director, said the efforts still help the city be better prepared to pursue many future grants from various sources.
In other business Monday, the council:
-- Approved lease-purchase of six new packaged Dodge Chargers and two ambulances for the New Castle Police Department. Both lease-purchases are with Huntington National Bank.
"The city is still on red alert spending, but funding was available in the department to do this," York said. "I'm pleased that they can get police cars. It's good to reward them for the great job they do for the city."
-- Heard from Police Chief Brad Catron who brought a resolution to approve a reserve officer program for the department.
Reserve officers would be able to assist full-time officers during parades, festivals and special events or as needed. The city may appoint reserve officers only after completing training - 40 hours of academy training and 16 weeks driving with a field training officer.
The resolution also states if funding is available and approved, budgeted and appropriated by the council, reserve officers may receive a uniform allowance, compensation for lost time for court appearance or insurance for life, accident or sickness coverage.
"I feel this program will help us out at two areas, Baker Park and The Arts Center," York said. "I'm embarrassed to say that we are having too many problems with destruction. We can then place one or two officers at these locations and keep our full-time officers on the main roads where they belong."
-- Tabled action on a new unified Emergency 911 contract negotiated between the city and county. Mayor York said the city is asked to pay $200,000 where the county is to pay the remainder.
EMS Chief Ron Burns said the cost is significantly down from a few years ago when the 911 and ambulance services were placed together costing the city around $350,000.
However council member Vaughn Reid III said $200,000 still seemed too much for the city to pay. He added that every entity should be required to pay a fair amount and said he did not feel comfortable signing the contract without seeing all the numbers.
"We have a third of the population of the county, so they should be required to put $400,000 into the E911," Reid said. "Otherwise the citizens of New Castle are getting the short end of the stick."
Reid said when everyone pays a fair amount then the county will get a better funded dispatch system.
"I'm concerned for what is best for the city," Reid said. "This right now just doesn't seem a good value for the taxpayers."
The council agreed to table the 911 contract to look more closely at the number breakdown between the city and county.