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Berthold to establish city police force

The City of Berthold will be advertising for a chief of police.

10/10/12 (Wed)

By Caroline Downs

The City of Berthold will be advertising for a chief of police.

That was the decision of the Berthold city council at the regular monthly meeting held Monday. Following extensive discussion about a proposed budget for a police department, council members unanimously approved a motion to work with a proposed budget for a police department and begin the process necessary to advertise for a law enforcement officer.

Council members Mark Birdsall and Jim Peterson reported on a meeting they attended in September with Berthold city auditor Penni Miller, Burlington police chief Keith Crabb and Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski.

Birdsall noted the group prepared an estimated budget for a Berthold police department, based on information and advice from Crabb and Kukowski. “The salary is based on the same as the Burlington police chief at $23 an hour,” Birdsall said, “and that’s for a 40-hour week.”

The estimated budget included line items for salary at $55,000 including Social Security, insurance benefits, etc.; vehicle fuel and maintenance at $10,0000; cost of a part-time judge at $3,000; and a part-time clerk of court at $1,800. Other line items were office supplies, equipment purchase, equipment repair, education, evidence processing, meetings and schooling, and police vehicle transfer, for an annual budget projected at $81,400.00.

Another $4050 would be spent on one-time officer supplies, such as uniforms, a firearm, a vest and other personal equipment.

“This assumes if Ward County donates a vehicle to us,” Birdsall explained, adding that the vehicle in question is four years old, fully equipped and four-wheel drive. If the city of Berthold were to purchase an appropriate vehicle for the police department, another $34,700 would have to be budgeted.

Birdsall said he and Peterson felt confident in the budget numbers. “In Burlington, their budget for the police department is $156,000 for two officers, and they collect $32,000 a year in fines,” he said.

He also noted that Sheriff Kukowski promised to assist the city council in interviewing candidates for the position, as well as conduct any screening or background checks of candidates. “They also said they would help with an officer evaluation,” Peterson said. “They know if we get a police officer, that’s only going to help them with their workload.”

Birdsall urged the council to act immediately in order to advertise the position and start a law enforcement department in Berthold by January 1, 2013. “This is something we know the public wants,” he said, “and this is something that will generate some revenue.”

The council passed the motion and agreed they were seeking a candidate with law enforcement experience. Birdsall and Peterson said they would consult with Sheriff Kukowski to write a job listing and talk about options for posting the position.

Miller will work with Ward County Emergency Manager Amanda Schooling to submit a grant application to cover some expenses necessary for the law enforcement program. The city will also make a formal request to Ward County for transfer of a vehicle from the Sheriff’s Department.

Expansion planned at
Farmers Union Oil Co.
Farmers Union Oil Company-Berthold will be adding office space, following approval of a building permit by the city council. Manager Andy Fjeldahl described the project for council members after it received a “Do Pass” recommendation from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

A 54’x 32’ addition with seven offices and a meeting room will be constructed on the warehouse located on the east side of the pumps. Additional employee parking will also be designated. “We’re out of room,” Fjeldahl said.

Retail operations will remain the same for the business, and construction will not interfere with any services provided by Farmers Union Oil, according to Fjeldahl. Construction will begin within the next few weeks. “We should be able to move in sometime in the spring,” said Fjeldahl.

He noted local contractors would handle the project, including dirt work by Gratech Company, construction by Pete Johnson, water and sewer by Drew Fegley, heating and cooling by Hanson’s Plumbing and Heating, and electricity by Leon Huizenga.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $196,000.

In Other Business:
•Council members approved minutes of the September meeting and the city’s bills for payment as presented, with the exception of an invoice from Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson. A revised bill from KLJ was approved for payment in a separate action.

•Council members discussed rate schedules provided by Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson and Ackermann-Estvold Engineering regarding the services of a city engineer. The council expressed a strong interest in consistency and general oversight of city projects from the engineer they choose to hire. KLJ also provided a written contract for engineering services, which the council reviewed.

•The council approved a motion to hire H&H Coatings to make the necessary repairs to the city’s water tower, at an estimated cost of $16,000. The repairs were suggested following a routine maintenance inspection of the tower.

•Council members approved a building permit request from the Lewis & Clark School District to add four classrooms to the east side of the building, near the current elementary classrooms. Cost of the project is estimated at $1.2 million.

•The council passed a motion to submit a letter to Ward County indicating support for an addition to the county courthouse.

•Council members directed Peterson to order a bulk water station at a cost of $32,000 plus freight, to be installed at a location southeast of the golf course.

•Miller requested a new software program to handle utilities billing more efficiently for the city. She reported on two options she was considering, and council members asked her for more information before making a decision. Any new process would likely include a monthly bill mailed to Berthold residents using the city’s utility services.

•The council approved a motion to reimburse city employees and council members at the state rate for travel expenses associated with city business.

•Council member Mark Birdsall announced his plans to move outside the city limits of Berthold as of November 3rd. The council will seek persons interested in an appointment to fill Birdsall’s unexpired term on the council.

•The next regular meeting of the Berthold city council will be Monday, November 5th, at 7:30 pm at city hall.