Cloquet City Council approves $110K grant for police department
The Cloquet Police Department will use the grant to cover the salary and benefits for a driving while impaired enforcement officer for one year.
CLOQUET — The Cloquet City Council voted to approve the request to accept $110,418 worth of grant funding for a driving while impaired enforcement officer, during a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Cloquet Police Department Chief Derek Randall said the grant is from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and will shift one of the department's officers to the DWI enforcement position.
Randall said the officer will be focused on impaired driving, but also other driving safety initiatives like speed enforcement, seat belts and hands free driving.
"This would fund a full-time officer that would concentrate on those aspects," he said.
Randall explained that the person chosen for the position would stay on their current rotation but would work evening hour shifts, since DWI offenses typically happening later in the evening.
"We looked at it as a way to fund a position and a way to create deterrents," he said.
The grant would cover the base salary, benefits and training for the officer for one year.
The grant also allows the funding to move to different officers, which Randall said gives the department some room in case an officer gets promoted, moves or becomes burnt out from the new position.
City Administrator Tim Peterson said with the position being fully funded for a year, it gives the city time to evaluate the importance of it.
The grant allows city officials to free up $110,000 over the next year to allow for spending on stun guns, body cameras and radios, while having a net zero effect on the budget, Peterson said.
The city currently has $5,000 budgeted for stun guns next year, which would upgrade two devices. Peterson said it would take 12 years to update all the department's stun guns, and by that time they would need to be updated again.
"From my standpoint, it's a great position, fantastic grant, but also it just helps us with a lot of other things as well — (things) that we needed but just didn't figure out how to pay for yet," he said.
Randall added at the end of the meeting that the department has also received 14 automated external defibrillators at no charge through a grant from the Helmsley Foundation.
"That gives us enough AEDs for all of our patrol cars, admin cars," he said. "I know we are lucky to have a full-time fire department in the city ... but having these AEDs will improve our effectiveness to responding to cardiac-type calls in the city."
In other city business, Debra Shaff, executive director of the Cloquet/Carlton Housing Authority, asked the council to reconsider the Payment in Lieu of Taxes from the authority to the city.
Shaff said the authority is paying a PILT of 10% when state statutes say 5% would suffice. The authority's current payment is around $22,300 each year.
With additional income, Shaff said the authority would have more money available to upgrade its technology and provide online options for applications.
The software improvement, which hasn't been upgraded in 20 years, would allow the authority to be more efficient as a whole, she said.
The authority and the city have a lot of the same issues with outdated software, Peterson said, and his understanding of the statute is that PILT can go up to 10%.
"It is not that I don't agree with everything ... quite frankly we are all scrapping for the same pot of money," he said.
Peterson said lowering the percentage paid would make him think of it as adding $11,000 to the levy.
No action was taken by councilors on the topic.