City still exploring police funding

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By JASON ECK

The Sonora Finance Committee on Monday will continue discussing possible funding options for the police department.

The City Council members in December directed the committee to look at options for funding the Police Department after a state legislator refused to back an effort to put a tax increase before voters.

The city has been working to find the money to increase salaries to attract a wider pool of officer candidates and to retain current officers.

The finance committee in December directed Councilman Hank Russell and City Finance Director Pat Perry to review city departments' finances and see how they have changed in the past five years. Russell hopes to develop an easy-to-read analysis of how money is spent, and show how funding the police department became a problem.

He said that is not immediately clear from a simple budget printout, which is tailored more for auditors and department heads. Russell said he has thumbed through the budget and hopes to confirm some of his conclusions with Perry on Monday.

The general fund budget is Russell's priority, but he's also is interested in grants, on which the city departments including the Police Department rely.

As he said during his campaign for his city council seat, Russell believes the public should have a clear view of where city money is spent. He said a document clearer than a complicated city budget would be a start.

In December, committee member Liz Bass encouraged the city to explore some type of "blended service" with the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department. She even suggested the committee invite a representative of the sheriff's department to be part of the committee.

The city had pinned its hopes of solving the funding riddle on Congressman David Cogdill, R-Modesto. Council members approached the representative when he was in town to ask him to sponsor a piece of legislation to allow Sonorans to vote on a sales tax increase.

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