Kane police chief meets with council on budget

Kane Police Chief Brian Hillard met Thursday with the borough council to explain expenses in the proposed 2012 police budget and how he is attempting to make cuts.The discussion on the Police Department budget took up most of the 105-minute workshop at the borough building along Bayard Street.Another budget workshop is tentatively planned for next Thursday, Dec. 8 at 3:30 p.m. at the borough building. The forum is open to the public.Council last month adopted a tentative 2012 budget that calls for a tax rate increase of 1.5 mills. It now appears likely that council will approve a final budget with an even higher tax rate. Adoption of the final budget is expected to take place at the regular meeting of council on Monday, Dec. 12 at 4 p.m. at the borough building.Because the Police Department budget of more than $256,000 is about a fifth of the total tentative budget for 2012, some council members believe cuts can be made in the five-member police force. The elimination of a police officer has been proposed during council budget talks.Hillard said he is making cuts in the Police Department budget and is "willing to work with you (council) in any way I can" to curtail expenses.But he said "we can't afford to lose" one of the five positions in the department. He said a five-member department is necessary to maintain around-the-clock police protection in the borough, seven days a week.Hillard said the department next month will be "going to a new scheduling format that should reduce overtime" for the police officers."There was a lot of thought and time put into how to do such a schedule," Hillard said. "All of the officers like the idea and agree that it should save money."Hillard said the new Central Court program also is saving the borough money. Under Central Court, defendants initially go before a district judge in Smethport. Only those who request a preliminary hearing will be scheduled for a hearing in Kane District Court. Since most defendants waive their preliminary hearings, the Kane Police Department will have fewer prisoner transports between the McKean County Jail and Kane District Court, Hillard said. He said the Kane police officers also will have fewer appearances in Kane District Court because the cases waived in Central Court will be going directly to McKean County Court.The proposed 2012 budget includes $8,000 for overtime for the police department.See full article by purchasing the Dec. 2 edition of The Kane Republican.