Saturday, August 11, 2012

(Glenn Co) Orland defends efforts in grand jury response

By Rick Longley/Orland Press-Register -

Orland has an acceptable force of police officers and is supporting the department as funds allow, the city's response to the 2011-12 Final Glenn County Grand Jury report states.

City Manager Paul Carr also noted the city is expanding the library, another area the grand jury commented on in its recent report.

The City Council this week approved the response to the grand jury without much discussion.

"Orland did not have many mentions," Carr said about the grand jury report, and noted many of those were positive.

Most of the jury report focused on funding for the Police Department and the Orland Free Library.

The jury recommended increased funding for the Orland and Willows police departments and Glenn County Sheriff's Department, arguing it would yield safer communities.

Orland officials said that recommendation continues to be implemented within budgetary limits.

The city "enjoys fully funded staffing levels of 11 sworn officers, which is a rate of (almost 1.5 officer per 1,000 residents), well within the commonly accepted standards of community law enforcement protection," the response said.

As of July 1, Orland has two vacancies and is actively working to fill them, city officials said.

Carr and Sgt. Raymond Vlach, filling in for police Chief J.C. Tolle, said hiring new officers is a complicated and drawn out process since they must pass extensive background checks, receive on-the-job training and meet a host of other requirements.

"It is an intensive process," Vlach said, adding the department is not going to lower its standards to bring bodies on to the police force.

Carr also wrote the city is working to improve its Police Department as funding allows, and agrees to comply with the law and policies set forth to provide maximum public safety.

The reponse noted the city puts together an annual report of statistical police activity, including arrests, crime types and related matters, and that report is available on the city's website.

The jury also looked into the Orland and Willows libraries, which are run by Director Jody Meza.

Jurors said Orland's library is too small, and the city agrees.

It was relocated from a much smaller facility — the former Carnegie Library — in 1969, city officials said.

The current building was expanded and remodeled by 220 square feet in 1987.

The response noted that the library is 5,760 square feet, which on par with standards of a city this size, but concedes it is still inadequate for the area's population, according to architectural standards and the American Library Association.

The Willows facility is 8,000 square feet.

Orland and the Orland Friends of the Free Library group recently agreed to a cost-sharing partnership to expand the library by 14 percent, or 800 square feet.

Carr's report said Orland's general fund commitment to the library is similar to what it was 10 years ago and has increased slightly in the last two years - standing at $280,450 despite declining general fund revenues, offset by only $61,680 in library fines and the Willows sharing agreement.

Resources to operate the library have diminished significantly since library funding was dramatically reduced by the state and county during the past decade, the city said.

Orland's 2012-13 budget includes $7,500, up $3,000 from last year, which will primarily pay for contract services such as software and cataloging with $550 for periodicals and $1,000 for books. Where the city used to receive $100,000 a year from the county to operate the library, it now receives $60,299.

Orland's library does not have a book purchasing budget, the jury report stated, and relies heavily on donations from the public and Friends of the Library group for library materials.

But the library staff anticipates the future of libraries will more likely be going digital.

The city also noted Orland has well over 200 visitors per day for a library serving a population of under 13,000, so door counts at the library are exceptionally high.

Future increase in circulation and decrease in door counts can be expected due to technological advancements in both libraries and patrons, city officials said, adding Orland Library is increasing its online access to materials with cooperative sharing between facilities in Glenn County and via digital library services.

Council members praised the Friends of the Library for its support in buying books, computers, magazines and other material for the library each year.

There also is an annual golf tournament Orland puts on to raise funds, Councilman Bruce Roundy added.

Other jury comments on the library suggested sharing Library Director Jody Meza between the two cities seemed to be working well and she had a handle on things.

No comments: