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Colfax Police Facing Major Problems After City’s Budget Shortfall

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Budget cuts, low morale, and not enough officers. Those are just some of issues facing the Colfax Police Department. As Colfax's city officials work to find a solution, the bottom line is how this affects the city's public safety. When fully staffed, the City of Colfax has five police officer including the chief. But right now, they're down to four with another leaving for maternity leave next month. Chief Rick McNanney knows, there are serious morale issues.

“The impression the officers are getting is that they are not appreciated and that they are not being treated importantly by being given the equipment that they need and the budgets they need and everything else. I'm not saying that's true, but again, that's their feeling," says McNanney.

He says budget constraints have forced the department to end 24 hour calls. In other words, no patrols at night.

“You sleep better when you know there's someone driving around and watching your house and your cars and everything else,” he says.

Mayor Todd Vanek says the budget shortfall comes from many different things, including the lack of revenue from the city, and how much the city spends to operate.

“There's nothing we can't do different we're not a private business. We can't increase our profit margin," says Mayor Vanek.

Mayor Vanek says because of the size of Colfax, balancing the budget with services is difficult. The population is about 2,000 people, but he's already started to look past city limits for ideas.

“A lot of entities are now going to consolidated type services, whatever that means. We're in the research and trying to figure out what we can do," says Vanek.

And even though it may appear that Colfax has solved some budget problems with respect to its pool and parks, Mayor Vanek says it's actually been making the budget even more constrained.

“This is not a surplus revenue. It has been a revenue that has been on needed it's just going to help fill some gaps. It's not even enough probably to cover all of our capital improvements and the expenditures that we're losing," he says.

The city and police department have many different courses of action they can take, including asking voters to consider a levy on the upcoming ballots, and possibly consolidating the police department. Mayor Vanek and Chief McNanney don’t have a timetable for when the issues will be addressed, but they agree these problems need to be solved.

The chief outlined his department's concerns in his year-end report to the city council and the mayor. He says the morale is so low, nearly all of his officers are actively searching for new jobs. He also says their equipment failing, making it difficult to do their jobs. Plus, he says their patrol cars are also old, more than ten years. Again, he and the mayor have been working to figure out a solution.

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