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Audit: Cloquet Police Department over budget by more than $211,000 in 2018

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A Cloquet Police Department sits outside City Hall. An audit of the city's 2018 budget revealed the department went over budget by more than $211,000 last year. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

The Cloquet Police Department outspent its projected budget by more than $211,000 in 2018, an audit returned to the City Council in July showed.

Over half of the $211,000 difference between the projected and actual budgets is related to overtime expenses due to a number of patrol officers out for various reasons throughout the year, City Administrator Aaron Reeves said.

Unexpected personnel expenses for the CPD in 2018 — including nearly $60,000 in overtime costs — accounted for more than half of the budget overrun. Other reasons for the extra expenses included equipment costs, community outreach and the purchase of a new K-9.

Reeves also noted some of the additional costs like community outreach and the K-9 were offset by increased revenues and the use of forfeiture money.

Public safety was the largest expenditure by the city in 2018, representing approximately 34 percent of the city’s spending in 2018.

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Personnel costs could again be high for the CPD in 2019. Officer Scott Beckman left the force in December 2018 after allegations of misconduct, but a separation agreement with the city will keep him paid through September. Former Chief Jeff Palmer was on paid voluntary leave from April until his resignation Thursday, Aug. 8, with interim Chief Carey Ferrell being paid at the same rate as Palmer in his absence.

In addition, at least one other officer has taken an extended leave in 2019.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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