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Bethel City Council To Discuss Police Chief Salary And Homelessness During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 5, 2020

The Bethel City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss increasing the police chief's salary and adding a fund to provide homelessness services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Credit Katie Basile / KYUK

Bethel City Council will hold a special meeting on May 6 to discuss two budget modifications: one to increase the police chief's salary, and another to provide extra services for the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council member Michelle DeWitt’s proposal increases the Bethel Police Chief's salary to $140,000 from the currently budgeted amount of $114,275. DeWitt says that the city has already identified a qualified candidate for the job, but the candidate feels that the current salary is too low for his level of experience. The candidate is a retired first sergeant in the Marine Corps, and a graduate from the FBI National Academy with a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership. DeWitt says that the city must pay employees what they’re worth, or the city will continue to experience high turnover.

Council member Cecilia "Cece" Franko is proposing a different budget modification: $60,000 for the COVID-19 homelessness fund. Franko states that the city could use the money to provide shelter, food, and restrooms for the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the last council meeting, Franko told council members that homeless people don’t have a bathroom to use right now because businesses are closed due to the pandemic. Some council members believe that the $60,000 would be reimbursable under the federal CARES Act.