Funding approved for three new firefighters

By Tyler Vincent

At its Monday night workshop, the DeKalb City Council approved additional funding for the new fiscal year budget that would allow the fire department to hire three additional firefighters.

The decision was made after a request by DeKalb Fire Chief Pete Polarek, who submitted a master plan that ultimately asks for six firefighters. The council approved the addition of three officers, citing concerns for overtime budgets.

“Our personnel issues are critical and need to be addressed,” Polarek said. “This will certainly help. Not just from an overtime perspective.”

Polarek estimated that filling the positions would cost the city $25,000 maximum.

The proposition came during last week’s city council meeting when 6th Ward Ald. David Baker proposed that the council authorize city staff to come up with a cost for hiring three extra firefighters. The council in turn decided to analyze the needs of all city departments.

The council also heard from Public Works Director Ralph Tompkins, who said that his department’s main concern was the category of Street Division Remodeling and Expansion. For that category, Tompkins requested an additional $1.2 million for unfunded projects.

Community Planning Director Paul Rasmussen requested that funding for the property maintenance inspector position, which enforces zoning violations, be changed from half city funds and half Tax Incremental Funding. This move would increase the position’s range of coverage from beyond TIF districts. Currently, the sole source of funding comes from TIF funding.

DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen also submitted a proposal for three additional police officers, but his proposals will be addressed by the council in January.

The new fiscal year budget will go before the DeKalb City Council on Nov. 26.