The Santa Barbara City Council wants to expand the city’s police force by adding a restorative policing program, and it discussed the specifics at a budget workshop Thursday.
An additional full-time officer, three outreach workers and six part-time community services officers would work in the program. The $352,070 expense would be funded by the Redevelopment Agency.
City staff also presented a plan to hire two civilian Police Department employees, which would free up two sworn officers for patrol duties, since civilian positions are about half the cost.
City Manager Jim Armstrong said that if the council wants to add more officers, money will have to come through other general fund departments, cuts to outside organizations, increased fees or by proposing a tax measure.
“If you add ongoing obligation, it adds a deeper obligation next year, and you need to think seriously about that,” he said, adding that the city has a $2.7 million structural imbalance.
Public safety retirement costs are likely to outpace revenue growth in the next three years, and the longer-term employment contracts take away some negotiation flexibility.
The city’s Rental Housing Mediation Task Force, which has helped tenants and landlords work out their issues for more than 35 years, was heralded as an important resource, but it may be pressured to find alternative funding from grants or partnerships with nonprofit agencies.
Council members discussed funding the agency for six months and then conducting a review, but final budget decisions haven’t yet been made.
The City Council will adopt a budget for 2011-2012 by the end of June.