Puyallup residents’ tax dollars will be put to use improving public safety and continuing facility and parks projects in 2019, according to the city’s recommended budget.
The budget was brought to City Council for approval on Tuesday, Nov. 27, and comes in at just under $145.7 million, about $2.6 million more than the 2018 adopted budget.
The 2019 budget gives a boost of more than $2 million to the police department for an additional six officers. Two patrol officers and two school resource officers were added in 2018.
Outside of public safety investments, the budget allocates $60,000 to hire a consultant to examine the overall use of the Puyallup Public Library and to make recommendations on new features such as an art gallery; $5,000 to support upgrades to the Daffodil parade float; and $20,000 in support for the Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center and Pierce College Puyallup.
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Other highlights include continued funding for the Public Safety Building and various parks projects, including field conversion at the Puyallup Valley Sports Complex, the new Van Lierop Park trail connections, Puyallup Loop Trail crosswalks and various parks bathroom upgrades. Total cost of the parks projects is $4.6 million to be funded by grants, donations and lodging tax funds.
The city is funding a total of 10.75 new full time positions in 2019, including two engineering technicians, two civil engineers and a new parks maintenance worker.
The budget’s $50 million general fund sets aside the following amounts per department:
City Manager’s office: $541,059
Legal: $ 1.1 million
Courts: $1.8 million
Parks: $6.1 million
Library: $2.8 million
Police: $19.7 million
Office of city engineer: $2 million
Public works: $975,794
Development services: $3.3 million
Other (non-departmental): $10.1 million
In 2019, City Council also wants to tackle:
Safe Routes to Schools projects
Adopting marijuana regulations
Continuing collaboration with South Sound 911
Staffing study recommends more officers
Puyallup dedicates the largest portion — 39 percent — of its annual budget to the police department.
The approval for new police was based on a study conducted by Matrix Consulting earlier this year. The study shows an increase in violent crime in Puyallup by 2.9 percent and an decrease in property crime by 10.2 percent.
It also shows how busy officers are.
According to the study, Puyallup officers have a 7.2 percent proactive time — meaning they often jump from call to call and have little down time, a sign that the department is understaffed. The firm says proactive time should be at 40 percent.
“That is the lowest proactive time that Matrix Consulting has seen in hundreds of police studies we’ve done throughout the United States,” Matrix senior manager Greg Mathews told City Council at a Sept. 18 meeting.
Police Chief Scott Engle said the findings stirred concern about the department meeting a high level of community demand.
The study recommended an increase of 15.5 new positions at Puyallup PD, including nine new officers and three corrections officers, but not all of those will happen in 2019.
The study also highlighted issues with the current Puyallup jail, including lack of an outdoor recreation center and juvenile-processing and holding area, limited day-room space for female inmates and an inability to provide direct inmate supervision.
The 2019 budget sets aside approximately $2 million for the facility projects fund, which includes the city’s new Public Safety Building.
“The jail is an area we can improve upon... but I think our priority is to get cops on the street,” Engle said.