The City of Little Rock's proposed 2016 budget includes increased training courses and municipal funds to replace previously grant-funded positions at the Little Rock Police and Fire Departments.
According to City Manager Bruce Moore, public safety is a priority for the city's more than $250 million budget next year.
"We're ensuring we fill those positions as soon as they become vacant. On average we lose about 25 positions to retirements and transfers and so on," said Moore.
The LRPD will expand its ranks next year with two classes of recruits scheduled for early 2016. The city is also proposing a 2.5 percent raise for police, fire and 911 and 311 staff.
According to James Foster, an Administrative Services Manager at the LRPD, the department is currently 45 positions short. A first class of 25 hires will be held in February. 15 of the positions are funded by a federal grant for community-based policing.
A goal for the federally-funded hires will be to target violent crime and domestic violence in high crime areas.
"The focus will be mainly interacting with community-based organizations to determine criminal activities within their specific areas,” said Foster.
According to Moore, other fundraising priorities for the budget include economic development and fulfilling existing infrastructure promises.
"We're going to continue to address those items we said that we were as a result of the 2011 sales tax and then the 2012 bond issue," he said. " The citizens of our city can expect to see a lot of overlay of streets, a lot of infrastructure projects going forward."
He will hold the first in a series of public meetings tonight to review the city’s 2016 proposed budget.
Schedule of Public Hearings:
December 8, 6:00 p.m.
Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road.
December 14, 6:00 p.m.
The Centre at University Park, 6401 West 12th Street.
December 15, 6:00 p.m.
Little Rock City Hall, 500 West Markham.