Blaine budget takes bite out of hours

Published on Thu, Dec 12, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Blaine budget takes bite out of hours

By Meg Olson

Blaine’s budget cuts will hit home next week as the police department cuts hours and services.

As of December 16, the office hours for the Blaine Police Department will change from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. “This change will only effect those needing to do business at the police department – pick up copies of reports, apply for gun permits, make deliveries, etc.,” Blaine police chief Bill Elfo said. Police officers remain available 24 hours a day to respond to calls for service and investigate crimes.

Elfo said the cut in hours was necessary because of the elimination of one office specialist position in the 2003 Blaine budget. “This is probably the best way to minimize the impact on the Blaine public,” he said. Elfo also doesn’t have to lay off anyone, since the office specialist position being eliminated has been vacant since April and filled with temporary help hired from the ranks of police reservists.

With only one person manning the department’s reception desk, phones and daytime dispatch, Elfo said the hour before the doors open and one hour at the end of the day the remaining office specialist will focus on updating databases. He said the department will also no longer perform fingerprinting services for professional licensing, Canadian immigration or other purposes. “It’s impossible to be the officers’ and citizens’ lifeline and do all that,” Elfo said. The biggest user of the fingerprinting is the school district, Elfo added. Those that need fingerprints will now need to go to Bellingham.

City manager Gary Tomsic said at the December 9 city council meeting that, as they are in the same building and both departments have suffered staff cuts, the Community and Economic Development Department will also operate at the new reduced hours.
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