SOLEDAD — Soledad City Council is aiming to increase its police force and fund fire and park services with the establishment of a Community Facilities District.
Members of the City Council had several goals in many areas from administrative to economic development and even the police department. Under the Fiscal Year proposed budget, Measure Y would add an additional officer, which it did on June 7 by swearing in K-9 Huro accompanied by handler Officer Walter Tinay.
The adopted budget also allowed for an additional officer at mid-year, which brought in Fredy Ambriz and William Yetter to fill vacancies. Soledad Police Department is still looking to swear in another officer early September.
“We held interviews recently for the remaining vacancies and had seven candidates go through the process,” said City Manager Michael McHatten.
One final police officer Juan Santiago was also sworn in.
The City is also developing a class and compensation study as part of its collective bargaining. According to McHatten, labor negotiations are very active presently and progress continues.
An agreement was also approved with Bryce Consulting to conduct the Comprehensive Classification and Compensation Study.
They have produced a recommended list of peer cities and agencies and plan to discuss those with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Soledad Police Officer Association (SPOA).
“On Jan. 3 the City Council considered two resolutions which adjust the class and compensation plan and approved negotiated salary adjustments,” said McHatten.
The City is also researching incentive pay for certifications and longevity to see if it will help with retention, and finally, the City is trying to take advantage of free training opportunities.
For the fire department, the City Council is looking at adding an additional firefighter to make it three firefighters per shift per day with the ability to provide paramedic services. City staff and council are anticipating that the funding for the additional firefighter will also be through the Community Facilities District.
Among the goals that the City Council has for the fire department are to explore regional provisions of fire services with other South County cities and to explore funding options to fund a second fire station or update or relocate the current station to modern standards.