SMITHVILLE — The city is funding costs for a new school resource officer for the Smithville School District district, hired an assistant city administrator and is pressing forward with improvements in Heritage Park. Costs for these items were made official with approval of the city’s 2019 budget during a regular Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16.
In an effort to help provide safety and security to a growing school district, city leaders approved fully funding the salary of an additional school resource officer totaling at $55,460 in salary and benefits for a year.
“Adding a fifth school means additional coverage is necessary,” Superintendent Todd Schuetz said. “We have one (SRO). This will give us two.”
The district had originally discussed budgeting $40,000 to be used as part of the salary for an additional SRO.
“The district would (have shared) the cost with the city like the current arrangement with our present SRO,” Schuetz said.
Upon evaluating the district’s financial situation, Assistant Superintendent Wayne Krueger informed the board of education that with the cost of staffing the neighborhood schools and raises to employees along with no enrollment growth, funding an additional SRO would be difficult.
Using information Krueger provided, the board cut the new SRO position from the proposed budget over the summer.
“The district doesn’t have the money,” Smithville Mayor Damien Boley told aldermen ahead of their decision to fund the position.
A discussion by city leaders to cover the entire SRO costs began at the city level in September.
“We are very pleased with the support of the city in helping us make our schools as safe as possible,” Schuetz said.
Assistant City Administrator
After terminating the city’s former economic development communications coordinator and removing the position for the city’s list of staff, alderman agreed to create a new position, assistant city administrator, to take on the duties of the deleted position and others assigned to help with operations of the city. The city budgeted $106,000 for salary and benefits of this position.
Nicole Lee was hired from an application pool of 13 after a month and a half of a nationwide search. The city received applications from as far away as Florida and Washington state. Lee comes from the city of Topeka, Kansas, where she is currently employed as the administrative and financial services director.
Lee will begin her new role Tuesday, Nov. 13.
“We are looking forward to having her on board,” City Administrator Cynthia Wagner said.
During Coffee with the Mayor on Thursday, Oct. 18, people in the community were invited to Heritage Park to vote for their favorite playground equipment configurations to provide city leaders guidance on what should included in the park. Of five options, two had a soft play surface and three were equipped with mulch.
Early in the voting process, many community members preferred the soft play surface, but the option with the most equipment that is accompanied with mulch won the most votes with a total of 13.
Each of the options featured play equipment for children of all abilities that are ages 2 to 12.
A final equipment recommendation from the city’s park board will be decided at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25. Aldermen will then have the final say at a future aldermanic meeting.