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Waveland Keeps Police Department, But Cuts Officers to Dig Out of Budget Crisis

By Rhonda Miller | Published 18 Aug 2011 02:59am | comments
Waveland residents pack a budget meeting.

The crowd of about 125 erupted in applause when the Waveland Board of Aldermen voted to keep the city’s police department.  City Attorney Gary Yarborough said the police force is down by about half, but still big enough to keep two patrolmen on each shift.

"As far as the police department, they have allocated within there eight officers, as well as one additional police chief." Yarborough said. "The police chief’s salary be set at $50,000."

That’s less than the $57,000 salary of former police chief James Varnell, who was fired earlier this week. Varnell said he didn’t agree with city leaders who had previously suggested cutting costs by having the sheriff’s department patrol the city, instead of Waveland officers.

"The patrolmen, they get around, they know everybody. They know who’s supposed to be here and who’s not supposed to be around at three o’clock in the morning," Varnell said. "There’s definitely a big benefit to having your local police department."

With the smaller police force, Waveland will get support from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for investigation and narcotics services.

Another public safety cut came by trimming four firemen from the crew of 13.

Alderman Mark Kidd said budget cuts had to come out of other departments, as well.

"We had some city employees take a 10 percent pay cut to help adjust the shortfall that we had," KIdd said.

The cuts were made to get Waveland through to the end of the fiscal, which is September 30.  But officials said some of the budget adjustments are likely to continue and could save the city $900,000 next year.


Waveland residents pack a budget meeting.



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