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Lompoc police and fire departments request funding for upgrades

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 18, 2020

The Lompoc police and fire departments are asking the city for money to make some upgrades.

The Lompoc Police Department says it needs $2 million for equipment and infrastructure improvements.

The fire department is asking for $630,000.

The city pays for its public safety costs through the general fund.

While the city does not have the revenue needed to currently address the list of improvements, Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said the proposed one-percent sales tax increase on the ballot this year could help.

"We need to be informed about it even when we don't have the finances to address it so that we can start to plan for it. So if the tax measure passes, we can look at how to utilize some of those funds to address these issues," Osborne said.

While immediate needs and improvements will be talked about at Tuesday night's city council meeting, future needs will also be discussed, like the possibility of a new police headquarters as well as fire engines for the city.

According to a city staff report, the combined future needs for both departments is estimated to be around $20 million.

"The fire department definitely needs to have more upgraded equipment. They need more personnel. More so now than ever because of the increase in violence in the community. Same with the police department," said David Runkle, Lompoc resident.

Others say they would like to see the city address the shortage of first responders.

"We need more officers. We need more staff. We need more things that were not on the list I saw. We need more staff, people need to feel safe," said Deborah O'Day, Lompoc resident.

Even though salaries for police and firefighters also come out of the general fund, Mayor Osborne said staffing is a completely separate issue.

The council will only be discussing the funding requests.

The city said without the approval of the proposed sales tax increase, it will become even harder to meet future public safety needs.

The current budget for 2019 through 2021 was adopted with a deficit of about $300,000.

The general fund reserves are currently estimated to be $1.6 million or 25 percent of the general fund operating cost which is around $8 million.