By: 1812Blockhouse

Tuesday’s marathon set of meetings for Mansfield City Council saw that body review over 20 pieces of legislation. Over the coming days, we will review several of those measures.

One of those ordinances with a significant impact for the City involved possible acceptance of a COPS Hiring Program Grant in the amount of $ 1,083,097 through the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (“COPS”).

As explained by Police Chief Keith Porch, the monies represent a three-year grant which will cover the wages and benefits for four new police officers. In the fourth year, the City has to agree to keep those officers employed in the Division of Police and to cover 100% of those same expenses.

While cities can opt out of that fourth year requirement if they can show financial hardship, Porch noted that in that period, the Division has as many as 13 to 15 employees that may retire. Normal attrition, therefore, will take care of this requirement.

Typically, the Chief shared, such grants are awarded on a 75-25 basis, meaning that the federal monies cover three-quarters of expenses. This grant, he said, has actually been awarded at a 100% level.

During the Finance Committee meeting, Chair Jon Van Harlingen pointed out that there was a little “catch” with the 100% grant concept, as Mansfield would still have to cover any items in union contracts not eligible as covered expenses, such as training, uniforms, etc.. The total exposure for the City in this area would be $149,181.

Agreeing with Van Harlingen, Porch nevertheless emphasized how difficult getting the 100% waiver is, and that savings would be more than any out-of-pocket local expenses. Finance Director Linn Steward quickly agreed, sharing that the City cannot afford to turn down a $1.1 million, 100% grant.

The measure sailed through Caucus and full Council Meetings and was passed unanimously.

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