MORRISON – Plans to put a school resource officer into the Morrison schools are progressing, and officials hope to have one in place for the spring semester.
The school officer would be an employee of the city, but because a majority of the officer’s time would be spent in the schools, the school district would pick up most of the cost. Exactly what the split would be and other details must still be negotiated, but the City Council and school board hammered out the basic framework Monday at their respective meetings.
The council OK’d that preliminary framework and authorized Police Chief Brian Melton to complete the negotiation process with the school district.
“The next step is for me to get together with Superintendent Scott Vance and figure out the cost share and work out the details,” Melton said.
Although the numbers aren’t etched in stone, the city has plugged in some ballpark figures. Years of experience will largely determine the salary of the school resource officer.
“We’ve talked about the $52,000 range, and with benefits it would be closer to $70,000,” City Administrator Barry Dykhuizen said. “In addition, we’d have to buy a new squad car and gear for another officer.”
The department has five cars for six officers, but in addition to the SRO, Melton wants to hire an eighth officer. The prospects for another full-timer working exclusively for the police department is dependent upon how the November police levy referendum turns out. The city supports Melton’s request.
“Six officers is low for a town of Morrison’s size, and the department would only have the SRO 25 to 30 percent of the time,” Dykhuizen said. “The council could make the SRO cost share work within the city’s existing budget, but I don’t think we could add the other officer without the referendum.”
State law caps the police levy at .075 percent, but municipalities can go up to .60 percent if voters give their permission through a referendum.
The cost share in such school resource officer arrangements is often 70 percent for the school district and 30 percent for the city. In that scenario, Melton estimates it would cost the school district $32,000 and the city $13,000 to $14,000 for the second semester.
The city said it didn’t want to reinvent the wheel on the school officer plan. Morrison borrowed heavily from the shared officer plans put in place this year by Rock Falls and Fulton.
LIKELY COST TO HOMEOWNERS
If the police protection referendum passes in November, Morrison Police Chief Brian Melton said the rate should be raised to 0.225 to fund an additional officer, which would bring in between $120,000 and $130,000.
In that scenario, the owner of a $100,000 home would see an increase of between $60 and $75 to their annual tax bill.