2009-03-13 / Government / Neighborhood

Historic Heathwood Neighborhood Association

By Josh Cruse

The Historic Heathwood Neighborhood meeting was held March 10. Officer Dan Bowman spoke about a rash of car break- ins in the Melrose Heights area that were recently solved. James White was arrested and connected with 18 car break- ins. He also talked about an arrest made in a car break- in on Sunberry Lane. Officer Bowman said the main items the suspects and other potential criminals are looking for with these break- ins are electronics such as Ipods, GPS systems, and computers. Another issue that Officer Bowman brought up is people who ask to perform yard work. Because of the warm weather, Officer Bowman suspects this number will rise. He suggests that if you do not know the person who is asking to work in your yard do not allow them to.

On March 18 and March 21, the Columbia Police Department will be holding Neighborhood Watch/Identity Theft Workshops. The Workshop will be at 5:30 on March 18 and at 10 am on March 21. The workshops will address the following:

1. How to start up or join a Neighborhood Watch Program

2. How to reduce the opportunity for crime to occur 3. How to protect yourself from Identity theft 4. How to report emergencies

5. How to keep your home, car, and identity safe

Councilman Kirkman Finlay spoke on two main issues connected to the financial crisis, the spending by the police department, and the depletion of two important funds. He claims that the police budget was $25.5 million and through January they actually spent $28.5 million. One of the main reasons for extra money spent is due to a large amount of overtime hours for the officers. According to Councilman Finlay, the dollar amount for overtime has been as low as $1.6 million and as high as $2.8 million for about 60,000 hours of overtime. Under this current situation, instead of the deficit being $4 million it could be $10 million next year.

The other main issue concerns two internal funds that the city keeps. One is a rainy day fund, also known as the general fund. The other fund is an internal service fund called risk management that pays for insurance, health care, and court costs. As of June 30, 2008, the internal service fund had a balance of zero. The general fund had a balance of $12,980,047.

The next Historic Heathwood meeting will be held on April 14.

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