Entering into 2018, New Llano's first response team has drastically diminished.
During a special meeting today at noon, New Llano held a public hearing with no comment followed by a unanimous council vote to adopt an amended operating budget.
The amended budget is so reduced that it apparently cannot accommodate salaries for 10 positions including five (all) from dispatch, three (of five) police officers, and two from the fire department.
New Llano accountant Steven Kimball to Council said, “From what I understand, ticket-writing is down, and if we have to cut costs further, we will have to figure out if there is more payroll we have to cut.”
Kimball said he is not sure why revenue has slowed but noted traffic citations reduced mainly during the month of December.
December was also when Council introduced the amended budget containing $40,000 worth of cuts.
“Since then it has gotten worse,” Mayor Freddie Boswell said.
Councilwoman Carolyn Todd asked, “How did we get to this point?”
Boswell responded that revenue has dropped. “There are several reasons why, but I’m not going to say them in public,” he said.
Boswell suggested only night shift police coverage remain with two officers, total, and Police Chief Danny Hunt covering daytime shifts on his own.
Kimball asked Council, “Is it imperative that we keep dispatchers? If the (Vernon Parish) Sheriff’s Department can handle it, then we could let all dispatchers go.” And this is exactly what they did.
There is concern among those leaving the police department about how this will impact crime levels and the safety of New Llano’s citizens.