By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The Jasper County board that allocates grants from a share of law enforcement sales tax proceeds should have a little bit more to hand out next year — and one more agency in the competition.
The Police Department at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin will be allowed to submit an allocation for grant funds, along with other law enforcement agencies in the county, board members agreed Tuesday.
Ken Kennedy, chief of the university department, said his operation includes seven officers commissioned by the state. State funds cover the department’s operating budget, he said, but grant funds could help in technology and equipment purchases.
“We don’t have security guards anymore,” Kennedy said after the meeting. “We’ve been a recognized department since April 2008. We make cases and take them to the prosecutor, just like any other department.”
Kennedy said the department has mutual-aid agreements with the Joplin, Webb City, Duquesne and Carterville police departments.
Leslie Jones, a board member, noted that the MSSU department meets the definition of agencies that can receive grant funds, under the ordinance that established the county’s law enforcement sales tax. The quarter-cent sales tax was approved by voters in 2005.
Board members were told that there should be about $170,000 in grant funds to allocate in 2013, compared with grants of $164,000 that were approved for this year.
The board also agreed to authorize payment for 16 protective vests purchased by the Webb City Police Department. The panel had approved grant funds for 13 vests, but Webb City had been able to buy three more and still stay under the grant amount, Assistant Chief Don Melton told the panel.
He said the department also had been able to realize savings that allowed for the purchase of accessory equipment to go along with eight computers also purchased with a grant award. The board voted not to recommend payment for other items beyond those outlined in the grant request.
“As far as I’m concerned, we need to stay with the grant,” said Jim Woestman, board chairman. “But we want to give out all we approved. If they’re able to save money, they can come back and ask that money be allocated.”
Grant proceeds come from 4.3 percent of the revenue from the sales tax. Tax proceeds are estimated to top $4 million this year. The ordinance that set the tax election also designated a grant board that included the sheriff and a majority of Sheriff’s Department representatives. The County Commission more than a year ago disbanded that board and named its own panel, an action that has been among conflicts that led to a lawsuit against the commission filed by Sheriff Archie Dunn
FORMS THAT AGENCIES WILL USE to seek grant funds will be distributed by Jan. 1 and must be returned by Feb. 1. The board will meet Feb. 19 to make the grant awards, members agreed.