The Ellisville Board of Aldermen approved the hiring of a new certified police officer at its Tuesday regular meeting after a period of being unable to do so.
The board unanimously voted to hire James Paul Coleman as a full-time police officer at $33,500 per year. The officer previously worked at the Ellisville Police Department from 2002 to 2009 and worked for the Jones County Sheriff’s Office from 2009 until now. The new officer will begin with a six-month probationary period.
When Coleman starts will depend on “what the sheriff’s office tells him when he gives notice,” said EPD Police Chief Bruce Russell.
The EPD will look to hire another full-time officer in the future, at which point the department will no longer have a “skeleton crew,” Russell said.
“The city was in a financial burden, and we lost the position and have been saving that salary,” he said. “Hopefully we can get back up to a full staff.”
Russell dispelled rumors that some cities are hiring officers at $40,000 per year, saying officer salaries are comparable (around $30,000) across the board. For the department to have a full staff, two officers must be on duty in Ellisville around the clock.
“Call volume in Ellisville is a lot lower than in Laurel,” he said. “So these guys have some idle time in which they can patrol.”
To make up for the lack of manpower in recent months, Russell and investigator Scott Wurtz have been pulling shifts and overtime.
The board unanimously approved payments of $105,000 and $6,400 to Bush Construction and Clark Engineers, respectively, for the Jessamine Street resurfacing project.
Because of water and sewer problems on the street, the city aims to replace sewer lines beneath it before the resurfacing, which will begin at Court Street and Jessamine Street and extend to Allen Street, before turning to Pine Street. The water line work was completed in October.
In June, the board agreed to accept the lowest bid of $179,000 from Bush Construction for the project. The board paid $66,000 of the contract in October, including $33,800 for the water line improvements and $33,000 for street resurfacing.
The board also approved to pay off a CAT backhoe for $55,600 from the water department budget.
With little other discussion, the board adjourned the meeting at 5:50 p.m.