TIFTON - The Tifton Police Department requested an 8.4 percent increase in funding for fiscal 2002 Monday as the city council began its annual budget hearings.

Police Chief Jim Smith told council members the department's $2.6 million request will, if approved, comprise 9 percent of the city's total $27.4 million budget.

Of that, 62 percent will go toward operating costs, 25 percent for salaries and 13 percent toward preset costs. Planned capital expenditures include the purchase of nine police vehicles to complete the second phase of the department's take-home car program; four hand-held radios for use by school resource officers and computer equipment, mobile video recorders and a speed monitor with trailer to be paid for with a $32,700 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Smith said the department's goals for the upcoming year include construction of the new law enforcement complex on South Main Street, the second phase of the take-home car program, implementation of police services into newly annexed areas using present manpower, development of a public safety database to provide crime incident mapping, continuation of its community involvement program and employee self-improvement.

Also presenting budget proposals Monday were the municipal court, fire department, senior citizens' center, customer service center. Human resources director Jim Edens discussed the 2002 pay and benefits package for city employees.

Fire Chief Mike Flippo said requests for his department include a staff assistant to serve as a receptionist and make computer record entries; a quick response unit to enhance the current Jaws of Life equipment and completion of training facility improvements. A new fire inspections/code enforcement position would aid the department by helping prevent fires but would not be a part of the fire budget, instead falling under the Planning and Development department's authority.

The council will continue the hearings through Friday at the Utilities Building on Forrest Avenue. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, councilmen will hear from planning and development, streets, parks and cemetery, traffic and the water department.

Hearings at 5:30 p.m. Thursday will focus on wastewater, natural gas, marketing/public information and telecommunications, and a session scheduled at 11 a.m. Friday will concern the landfill, sanitation, engineering, human resources, the service fund and business development and special events.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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