Manvel police chief Keith Traylor received approval from city council to submit a grant application for a criminal investigator and related vehicle and equipment to the Criminal Justice Division of the governor’s office. Traylor explained that he was going to request the position in the upcoming budget year and that it is “the perfect opportunity for us to do this.”
The grant is limited to $125,000 and Traylor projects the city’s request to be no more than $90,000. If selected to receive the funds, the grant will pay 100% the first year, 80% the second year, and 60% the third year. The city will be required to fund 100% of the costs beginning in year 4. Traylor says it will give the department time to “start building some revenue to pay for the position.” Traylor estimates the total compensation, including benefits, of the new position would be approximately $50,000.
He described the need for a full time criminal investigator as dire. Currently the department consists of seven patrol officers, two supervisors, and the chief. “If we have a criminal case to investigate we are looking at taking a patrol officer off the street. If it is a major case we are looking at considerable time that the officer will be off the street. I don’t like taking patrol officers off the street; that’s where they are supposed to be.” The new investigator would “investigate crimes and will leave the officers patrolling where they should be.”
The chief told council that he will be looking at computer upgrades in the next fiscal year that will keep officers on the street where they can complete their paperwork in their patrol vehicles. “There are a lot of things we are doing to keep them out on the streets and keeping them visible.”
In other council news, members voted to approve an ordinance allowing an amendment to the general fund budget to provide funding of approximately $28,000 for an update to the city’s thoroughfare plan. City Manager Kyle Jung told council that the current Capital Improvement Plan includes $65,000 for improvements to the city hall parking lot. He suggested deferring that improvement and transferring the required amount from that line item to engineering in order to contract the work. The city attorney will negotiate an agreement which would require council approval before the study can begin.
The last thoroughfare plan was part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan done in 2007 and as Jung describes it, it was not done with much engineering but rather was more of a planner’s design. This plan would “actually include the engineering behind it,” he said. The study should require between six to eight months to complete once the contract is approved.
Mayor Delores Martin says “it is important that we have a thoroughfare plan that works. We need to learn from our neighbors on what not to do.” Manvel’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, expressed excitement at getting the updated plan and said “this is one of those times when we need to go to an expert in that field.” He went on to say that “it will be a valuable tool when we sit down with developers.”