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Reorganization Costs Police Department Post
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Escalon's police department is down a member, with the recent layoff of Code Enforcement Officer Katie Kirkbride in a cost-cutting move.

"We did some reorganization recently with the code enforcement, we placed that between the Police Department and Planning," City Manager Henry Hesling said.

While the layoff was not something Hesling wanted to do, he said Escalon, like many cities, is looking for ways to restructure, spread out the workload among fewer staff, and save money. The loss of Kirkbride will put additional duties on other officers within the police department - where she also served as an evidence technician - and on those in the planning-building-engineering department.

"It's an ongoing work in progress," Hesling said of determining what duties will be handled by which department.

He also hopes - but isn't promising - that it will be the last of the layoffs this fiscal year.

Department heads are putting their budget proposals together now for the 2011-2012 fiscal year and all know it will be another tight year. They will all be asked to do more with less, said Hesling, and know that going in.

"It's no different than last year," Hesling noted of the financial situation.

There were several employee losses in the last year because of the cuts and remaining employees also have a once a month furlough day, with this month's scheduled for Friday, Feb. 18. City offices will also be closed on Monday, Feb. 21 for Presidents' Day, making it a four-day weekend.

"We ended up laying off an engineering tech, we did away with the Public Works Director post, we did away with the City Planner position," Hesling said of staff reductions. "We're lucky enough to have gotten a grant for a police officer, that's for a three-year grant, and we will do what we have to for code enforcement."

In light of the current economy, Hesling said all department heads, city staff members and Escalon City Council members realize the employee numbers will not be going up anytime soon. The hope is, he said, to "hold the line" and build a budget based on maintaining services.

"Each time we do something, there's a cost savings we're trying to accomplish," he said of reorganizing and redistributing duties.

"I think the council is well aware of this. The direction they're giving me is let's keep the ship solvent, let's keep it going forward."

Maintaining the existing level of services will be a priority in the budget plan, he said, along with insuring the health and safety of the city residents.

Other factors, such as being part of an enterprise zone and looking at a redevelopment agency, will have to wait until decisions on those issues are made at the state level.

"We just got into an enterprise zone and now they're looking to kill it," he said of the new Brown administration. "None of this stuff is enjoyable."

On the positive side, Hesling added, the city is working on ways to be more responsive to the public, setting up a computer in City Hall where they can go online to pay their bill, look up information and more, while the city's website is also being redesigned to be more user-friendly.