RACHEL GRABER AKPOTU
FORT BRANCH —Fort Branch Town Council met for an “end of the year” session last week and amended a salary ordinance that will affect the clothing and equipment allowance for full-time police officers.
As part of a yearly budget, a monthly allowance for clothing and equipment is fixed at $100 per month payable by the general fund directly to the vendor for uniform needs.
Currently, any amount not used at the end of the year on clothing and equipment is payable to the full-time officer and reported on the officer’s W-2 as income.
In addition, the town also provides officers with a new armored vest every three years.
“Right now if they don’t spend money on their clothing all year, they could theoretically get a check at the end of the year for $1,200 in addition to their normal pay,” said Councilman Harold Wolf.
Council members agreed that the town would pay for all the clothing needs as required, however they would eliminate the dollar amount for the monthly allowance effective in 2017.
With this amendment, council members said they wanted to take away any incentive for an officer to possibly under equip themselves or use left over balance of the allowance as an end of the year “bonus” to themselves.
“At no point am I ever going to be opposed to the police not having the proper uniforms in good condition,” said Councilman Adam Bledsoe. “As long as they are justifying what they need I would never not be in favor of purchasing it.”
“To me it is a cost saving measure that still provides them with all the equipment that they need,” said Bledsoe.
The council agreed that equipment and clothing purchases would be made on an “as needed” basis as they do with reserve officers.
“They have shown in the past that they can get everything they need for less than that $1,200 and by eliminating the dollar amount we are only paying for what is needed."
The next town council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 6 p.m.