Springfield Council Votes to Unfreeze Vacant City Positions

By Matt Lupoli | mlupoli@kolr10.com

Published 08/18 2014 10:21PM

Updated 08/19 2014 04:22AM

Springfield city positions frozen last month have been unfrozen after a unanimous vote by council members Monday night.

"We looked we found there just wasn't a pot of money sitting around," Mayor Bob Stephens said.

After some city council members and a union that represents police officers pushed for ten additional personnel at the Springfield Police Department at a cost of about $600,000, a debate about what to with current vacant positions in other departments surfaced.

A public discussion about the city's priorities soon followed, ultimately resulting in the freezing of those vacant positions.

In July, Stephens told KOLR 10 he did not want a sharp focus on the police department to undermine other city functions.

On Monday night on City Hall's third floor, the unanimous decision to life the hiring hold and allow the city's General Manager to fill positions at his discretion came without any contention.

"At this time i don't see that we are going to come up with the funds we are looking for through the frozen jobs so i would like to see the city manager be able to function," Zone 4 councilman Craig Fishel said.
Stephens said the police department is currently recruiting and that a new grant could also help add personnel.

"We are currently recruiting and getting ready to hire a class of twenty five new officers to start training Jan. 1," Stephens said. "We have a grant request out for an additional officers through a cops grant. So it's possible if we get that entire grant that in the next twelve months we can be bringing on thirty five additional police officers."

The mayor said it's time to forward and that the city's turnover is not unlike other municipalities and private sector businesses alike.

"The baby boomers are retiring. So every time you've got to find somebody to replace them and it just appears to be more critical with police because their training period is so much longer," Stephens said. 

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