New police officers, new fire equipment in WL budget

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – The city of West Lafayette plans to add a trio of new police officers to its force over the next three years. That’s just one of the changes planned for next year’s budget.

“The city of West Lafayette, obviously, is a different city now than it was just nine months ago,” said Mayor John Dennis.

The city’s budget will be different than it was nine months ago as well. It’s all thanks to the recent annexation that’s been in place for five months. Some of the city’s department heads met with the West Lafayette City Council Tuesday evening to review the 2015 budget. Dennis said it will be a different budget than what they’re used to seeing.

“The budgets are going to be bigger, out of necessity. Our revenues are going to be increasing because of the annexation and also our calls for services, specifically our public safety folks, are going to increase as well,” said Dennis.

In fact, the police department is preparing for the increased calls by adding patrol officers. Chief Jason Dombkowski said the last time the department added officers was the last time the city annexed property in 2007. He said the department added on three officers then. This time, it will add one officer a year for the next three years.

“We want to spread that out over a couple years and the way we have it set up right now is doable. That area is going to continue to grow over the next couple of years, certainly on the new 231 corridor,” said Dombkowski.

News 18 has already reported that calls for the fire department have gone up, partially because of the annexation and partially because of a new system to report the calls. Chief Tim Heath said one of the department’s major increases in the 2015 budget comes from new equipment for the firefighters, including bulletproof vests.

“As we do active shooter training and we work in cooperation with our police department, we feel there’s a need to address our need to protect our people in those situations. So, that’s just the direction we’re going at this point in time,” said Heath.

Dennis said even with the requests for new officers and new equipment, the departments have been able to keep their budgets relatively low.

“Both of them are holding their budgets down to single-digit increases and that includes providing additional services for our annexation, which is where the revenue for those increases is coming from,” said Dennis.

Dennis said the council won’t actually vote on the budget until this fall.

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