Montrose, CO – City Councilors unanimously approved the creation of a Public Safety Citizen Advisory Committee, (PSCAC) an advisory board tasked with evaluating, assessing, and recommending funding initiatives for the Montrose Police Department.
The revised Resolution 2018-25 states the "City Council desires to establish a committee formed of citizen representatives willing to investigate, evaluate, and provide recommendations to Council concerning funding initiatives regarding criminal justice within the City of Montrose."
Councilors voted 5-0 to create the board at their regular meeting Tuesday evening. The deadline for applications to serve on the committee is Oct. 9. City Councilors will begin reviewing those applications at their Oct. 15 work session.
The voluntary board — whose community membership is appointed by the City Council — will be asked to identify any critical needs of the Montrose Police Department that are not being met, and determine if those needs can be addressed within the city's general fund or through new revenue sources.
Assistant City Attorney Andrew Boyko told councilors during a work session Tuesday morning the City had already received interest from eight area residents who wish to serve on behalf of the council. The work session was moved to Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday.
Applications to serve on the board will be available to the public online at CityOfMontrose.org, or at City Hall located at 433 South First Street.
Earlier this year a group of concerned citizens representing the Montrose Regional Crime Stoppers brought to the council their findings that police services in the city were greatly understaffed and underfunded.
A proposed Public Safety Sales Tax, (PSST) was discussed at that time as a possible way to increase the number of sworn officers in Montrose and upgrade the Police Department headquarters at 434 South First Street. In 2018 the sworn officer count at the Montrose Police Department stands at 42, compared to 55 sworn officers in the City of Durango, a community with a smaller population than Montrose.
In July, the council’s consensus was to delay placing a tax initiative on the ballot until next year while working on the 2019 budget to find funds to further support essential police operations and combat crime within the city. Councilors also agreed that more citizen involvement is needed before any possible tax increase vote could take place. Any tax increase proposal would need to go before voters for approval.
Boyko told councilors Tuesday the resolution was written as "tax neutral" so committee members can serve without the preconceived notion that a tax increase is already a given.
"If the Committee determines that a tax initiative is necessary to provide additional funding for the Montrose Police Department, what method at what rate would be appropriate to provide for both current and future needs of the Department," the resolution states.
The MPSC board will be appointed by the City Council to study the department's crime and staffing data and examine the department's current funding constraints.
Slight changes were made to the resolution and application at Tuesday's work session to make sure the committee was representative of everyone living and working in the Montrose area.
"We want people who live here and have a vested interest in the issue," Boyko said.
The resolution states that the committee will have no less than 12 members and no more than 18. Each committee board member will go a though an application process, including a background check, prior to going before the council.
Once in place, the board will study the issue of funding, police staffing, and whether the police department’s current facilities provide adequate space for both current and future needs. The board will be tasked with providing written recommendations to the council and delivering their findings in person at work sessions and regular City Council meetings.
Any recommendations will be approved by majority vote of the board before being presented to the council.
The board will be subject to open meetings laws and will be required to publicly notice their meetings and hold them in a public setting.
Officers of the board would consist of a chair, vice chair, and secretary. The City Council would appoint staff liaisons to the board, sourced from the Montrose Police Department, City Attorney’s Office, and possible other City Departments.
For more information about the application process contact the City Clerk's office at 970.240.1430.