WEST ALEXANDRIA — West Alexandria Village Council members discussed budgetary concerns, and the relocation of the village police department, at their bi-monthly meeting Oct. 7.
Police Chief Anthony Gasper confirmed the village police station has been almost entirely relocated. The station currently resides at a property owned by former village council member Ray Waldeck. Waldeck claimed he was forced to resign from council in June, shortly after acquiring the property, to avoid a conflict of interest. He has since addressed council during several public meetings regarding payment of rent and other concerns.
According to Waldeck, the village was late paying rent on the property in June, July and August of this year, stating they routinely paid a month or more behind under their agreement with the previous landlord. During council’s Sept. 3 meeting, Waldeck insisted on receiving payment at the beginning of each month.
Village Clerk and Treasurer Wendy Chesney reported that, in their latest conversation, Waldeck asked for a prorated payment of $325 to allow the police station to remain at his property until Oct. 14. If they wished to remain until the end of October, Chesney said, they would have to pay the full monthly rental amount of $525.
“If we’re not out by then, he said he’d lock the village out and put chains on the doors,” Chesney said.
“That’s exactly right,” Waldeck said when contacted by The Register-Herald for a response to Chesney’s comments. “I gave them fair warning that if they don’t get out, I’m locking the doors.”
Council initially said they would vacate the property by June 1, according to Waldeck. Waldeck claimed he has had to forego leasing the property to a number of renters since that time because the police department has been slow to move out.
Council ultimately voted unanimously to pay Waldeck $325, as well as an additional $289.86 for water, sewer and trash service, and to vacate the property by Oct. 14. Waldeck said he is running to reclaim his council seat in the upcoming Nov. 5 election.
Chief Gasper also sought council’s approval to hire one new auxiliary police officer and one new part-time police officer. The part-time officer will be brought in at a pay rate of $16 per hour.
Gasper also raised concerns about payments for a new vehicle that are being drawn from the police department’s accounts. According to Gasper, those payments were not included within the department’s 2019 budget, as council made the decision to purchase the vehicle without appropriating additional funds to cover the payments.
“I can’t imagine anyone not thinking that a police car was going to come out of the police department’s budget,” council member Karen Mays said. Other council members suggested the department forego hiring new full-time officers in order to cover the cost of the payments.
Council member Holly Robbins — who said she had voted against purchasing the new police vehicle — said the payments would be added to the police department’s budget for 2020.
West Alexandria Village Council meetings take place the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Twin Valley South High School Media Center.