By Michael S. Hoey


Despite concerns about how to pay for it, the Darien Village Board voted Monday to hire a new full-time police officer.

The village hired Gerardo Baca, 27, who has worked as a part-time officer for the village and the city and town of Delavan.

First the board had to decide if it wanted to hire a full-time officer at all. The need for one resulted from the resignation of former officer Mike Maltese in June and the potential loss of another officer to another job possibly as soon as the first week in September. That could leave the department with four officers including Chief Hunter Gilmore to provide 24-hour police protection for the village.

Administrator Diana Dykstra expressed concern about how to pay for the new position but suggested using a loan earmarked for the sewer department that is no longer needed. Dykstra said the cost of wages and benefits for a new officer from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 will be $24,102. Partly because of a $28,000 payout to Maltese, the village’s contingency fund has a negative balance and other Police Department budget accounts are overrun.

However, Dykstra said, the sewer department is now holding its own and does not need a loan the village budgeted for it. That money, she said, could be used to pay for the new officer. Even so, Dykstra said the police department as a whole will be 12 percent over budget at the end of the year.

Trustee Jim Abbott was still concerned about how the new position would be funded. Abbott suggested meeting with Gilmore to discuss how the Police Department will stay within its budget for the rest of the year.

The motion to approve hiring an officer passed 6-1 with Abbott opposed. The board then unanimously approved hiring Baca.

Baca has worked as a part-time officer for six years and has served as a community service officer with the Whitewater Police Department. He received his training at the Blackhawk Technical Institute Law Enforcement Academy, has an associate’s degree in criminal justice and is a state certified instructor.


Parks agreement

The board approved an intergovernmental agreement for shared recreational services between the village, the Town of Darien and the City of Delavan that would engage the city in providing, managing, and administering recreational programs and activities for all three municipalities. The initial agreement, if approved by all three municipalities, will be for three years, and the agreement would become annual after that. The agreement would take effect Jan. 1 if approved.

Abbott questioned what village residents get for the cost of the agreement. According to the agreement, the village and the town will each pay the city $4,500 in 2013, $7,000 in 2014 and $9,500 in 2015.

Dykstra said the village will get much better publicity for the programs and facilities it can offer the three communities, and village and town residents will have access to city programs on identical terms and conditions as city residents.


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