October 10, 2012After a lengthy and often contentious discussion regarding police department staffing, the University City Council decided to take up the matter of funding four new positions at its Oct. 22 regular meeting.
Councilman Byron Price said with the recent news that the city has a $2 million budget surplus, funds should be allocated to fund four officer positions at $65,000 each, for a total of $260,000. A lengthy discussion ensued, which at times grew acrimonious between Price and Mayor Shelley Welsch.
Price said he wanted the funding given to the department because of an increase in violent crimes and the occurrence of five homicides in the city this year.
Welsch ruled Price's motion out of order, saying that it was not a scheduled agenda item and that it should wait until Police Chief Charles Adams, as well as city residents, had a chance to publicly weigh in on the matter.
Other council members pointed out that next year's budget would already allocate funds for three additional officers and they didn't see a need to rush. Price maintained that his motion to approve the funding was in order, responding that to wait "was not a rush to judgment when we have violent crime activity that has never happened before.
"It would be a neglection of duty to wait a year when we have this crime now," Price added.
Councilman Stephen Kraft said that since Welsch had already ruled it out of order the council should move on to the next agenda item. Councilman Arthur Sharpe Jr. made a motion to move Price's proposal to the Oct. 22 meeting and the resulting roll call vote was unanimous to do so.
In other action, free parking near Vintage Vinyl, in the 6900 block of Delmar Boulevard, will take effect for the next four months under a temporary arrangement granted by the council.
The move came at the request of Lew Prince, co-owner of Vintage Vinyl. City administration recommended that free parking be restored on the south side of Loop South, from Kingsland to Leland Avenue, from October through January 2013 until the completion of the traffic and parking study authorized two months ago.
The move also includes a four-hour parking limit between the hours of 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., as it is currently implemented in the rest of the Delmar Loop.
At the request of City Manager Lehman Walker, a resolution that would declare a property at 8390 Delmar Blvd. a blighted area, approve a redevelopment plan for the area and authorize the use of eminent domain to acquire the property, was postponed indefinitely.
Delcrest Development LLC wants to buy the property to build a 14,748 square foot retail building with a drive-thru window for a Walgreens. and a three-story office building.