City Finance Committee says for new animal services officers won't be added right away despite chief's requestLocal NewsTuesday, November 25, 2014
The Santa Fe Police Department’s Animal Services Division will have to wait until at least next year to get additional taxpayer funding for additional officers.
The City Council Finance Committee on Nov. 17 postponed an item in which Police Chief Eric Garcia requested roughly $207,000 for two additional animal services officers. That taxpayer money would have included salary, vehicles, equipment and training for the positions, according to Johnny Martinez, manager of the Animal Services Division.
The SFPD division is currently authorized for six full-time officers in addition to Martinez, who as manager spends much of his time at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society—which leases offices to the city—on supervisory duties for the division.
The other officers are supposed to fan out across the city every day, enforcing Santa Fe’s animal control ordinances. One position remains vacant. During a ride-along with SFR [Dog Days, November 12, 2014], Martinez told us it’s difficult to recruit the right person for the job. Currently, the five animal control officers make between $12.74 and $15.11 per hour, according to the city’s transparency portal. Martinez makes $23.03 per hour, according to the data.
The division received roughly 6,500 calls for service in 2013, says Martinez, who says the division’s workload has increased after the city’s population increased by roughly 13,250 residents following its annexation of county land.
Carmichael Dominguez, chair of the Finance Committee, tells SFR that SFPD should have asked for the additional positions when the city was hammering out the budget early this year. “That’s one option,” Dominguez says when asked if the division will have to wait until the middle of 2015, the start of the city’s next fiscal year. “Unless they find [an additional] funding source, whether it be through reclassification of other positions or some kind of salary saving somewhere. They’ll have to wait until the next budget cycle.”