Junction City lays off two police officers

October 08, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

JUNCTION CITY - Facing dwindling coffers, Mayor G.G. Harmon has cut the police force in half and laid off two water employees.

Harmon said he would listen to reaction from residents at 7 p.m. Monday, and if convinced he will reinstate the two police officers.

Junction City borrowed money this year to be able to pay bills and write paychecks. The City Council passed a tax package in September, but Harmon said it wasn't enough to keep all the employees.

The mayor is solely responsible for city personnel. The City Council didn't vote on the layoffs, and several council members said they weren't in favor of the decision.


The City Council raised the property tax and levied a 1 percent payroll tax and a $50 occupational license fee. Mounting attorney bills from the clean-up of a lead battery Superfund site, a failing sewerage system and increased insurance costs have been blamed for the shortfalls.

The city told the Danville-Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission that it would not be able to contribute at all this year to its budget. P&Z had asked for $2,500. Chairman Pete Coyle told the council Tuesday that he understood their situation.

"Believe it or not you're on my prayer list," Coyle said.

The city had four police officers. The cost of salary and benefits for the two officers laid off is $68,000.

"If someone breaks into my house at two in the morning, I'm going to be madder than hell if there ain't any cops there," Jimmy Carlton, a resident, said.

Harmon said the Kentucky State Police and Boyle County sheriff would respond to calls.

"There's no money there to pay them, and I'm not going to write anybody a cold check," Harmon said.

He told residents that if money surfaced, then he would put the officers back to work.

State Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Junction City, has been working on several grants to help supplement the officers' pay.

Police Chief Jimmy Gipson said the state would allow him to spend a $4,000 equipment grant already in hand on salaries, and he told residents to tell Mike Harmon they want the officers to stay.

Residents collected 116 signatures on a petition to keep the officers, and plan to hold a benefit concert at the park to raise money.

Councilman Dewayne Taylor offered to give up his $50 council stipend.

"If we all gave ours up, that's only $300. What's that going to do?" Councilwoman Connie Vernon said. "This isn't a matter of just $4,000 or even $20,000."

Daniel Leonard and his wife, Michelle, offered to mow the cemetery to save money.

"Junction is fixing to fall, and all the drug dealers that these cops have run out of town are going to be back," Michelle Leonard said.

Gipson said that work-release inmates from the county jail were used to mow the cemetery, and that it does not cost the city anything. Inmates have also started to clean City Hall to save money.

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